This article is part of our Breaking Barriers Spring 2022. This installment features articles on several young adults with disabilities ranging from tumors to limb differences to processing disorders and lupus who tell their stories of what it has been like for them. If you'd like to read more stories from this issue, please subscribe to Breaking Barriers.
A disability isn’t something that’s wrong with a person; it’s a different type of design. My abilities are slightly different, but I’m not unable. One textbook defines “disability” as a disadvantage, as if there’s something you can’t do or feel, dictating limitations. That’s a very negative viewpoint. It’s also a very negative view that I’ve carried for most of my life. The stigma—even putting the actual disabilities aside—has made me feel as if I wasn’t allowed to be a part of social groups and activities that interested me. I felt like I wasn’t allowed to be who I wanted to be because I had to be the disabled kid.
What I’ve always wanted is to feel normal and accepted, especially in the eyes of others. But as long as I was disabled, I was different. This made me feel like I was broken, even though I don’t think of myself that way. I have an information processing disorder and weak muscle tone, and I live with depression and anxiety.
For a long time, I saw these things as proof that I’m defective, that I needed to be fixed or cured. But these things aren’t a disease, not even the depression. I see these as different schematics, ways I’m created differently from others. Some people don’t like seafood, some people are allergic to dogs, and some people practice their faith differently; there’s nothing wrong with any of those things. In fact, this diversity enriches our human experience.
By giving me my differences, God helps me to bring new perspectives, new ideas to the table. I may need help sometimes, but that doesn’t mean I’m broken. My disabilities are unique qualities, and those qualities can help others learn and grow in their own journeys. My information processing disorder could help uncover a better way of teaching information, and my depression can give others new perspectives. The ways I’m different may actually help others improve their lives.
My abilities are different from other people’s abilities; that is a beautiful part of God’s creation.