Living with a disAbility

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Living with a disAbility can be a challenging thing.  I call it a disAbility with a capital A because I consider my personal disAbility to have given me abilities that others do not have.  Because I have Bipolar disorder, I am more sensitive, more empathetic to others in need, and I now how a life purpose that I would probably have never found had I not had this disorder.  Bipolar has caused me to dig deep and look for solutions to problems, finding an inner reserve of strength and resilience that I never before knew that I possessed. 

When one has a disAbility, there is a tendency to feel like “Why me?”.  At first, I had a bad case of the “Why Me’s” myself.  However, I learned slowly first to accept my situation, and then to have the best life possible in spite of it.  Now, I have the best life possible BECAUSE of my Bipolar disorder.  I go to work satisfied everyday with what I do, I have a mission to help others that drives me forward on a bad day, and gives me deep contentment on a good day, and I feel like I am contributing to the world. 

So, how do we help our children with disAbilities to feel comfortable with themselves, even though they feel so different? Well, it is important that they realize that they are not as different as they feel.  Every child has some sort of disAbility, or will in his or her lifetime.  Whether it is diabetes, poor vision, allergies, asthma, each child has something special.  I know this because as a teacher, I was given the medical list on my children every year, and 9 times out of 10, each child had some kind of disorder.  Also, it is important to instill your child with a sense of inner-giftedness.  A child with a mind disorder can be so resillient.  Focus on the things that your child does right, and praise him or her for their Abilities.  Remind your child that we are all created with special gifts, and there is a reason why he or she was created just the way they were.  The more special you make your child feel, the more they will adopt this attitude for themselves. 

I will also tell you something else:  most of the special needs children in my classes did better in my class than many of the ones that were not classified in this way.  Why?  Because they got extra help and support in areas such as organization, test taking strategies, etc; areas that a regular education teacher just does not have the time to address.  At the end of the day, these children were able to excell because of this. 

I hope that this gives you a new perspective on disAbility.
Be well
~Emily

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