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"To me, acceptance means seeing disability as something to be embraced rather than pitied. When I was in high school and college I got to know a lot of kids and teens with disabilities, and am lucky enough to still call some of them my friends 20 years later. Watching them come to own their disabilities and take pride in their identities has played a major role in shaping how I look at things as an occupational therapist working with kids with severe/multiple disabilities. It's not my role to 'fix' the kids I work with or try to make them more like everybody else - there's nothing wrong with who they are now. I see my role as helping them to become comfortable with their abilities and to figure out how to maximize them, to accomplish what they want/need to do. I see how uncomfortable people sometimes get around them - the looks of pity, comments on how sad it is, or the overcompensation of pretending that disability doesn't exist and we're really all the same. That's just silly - we're clearly not all the same, and disability is clearly very real - pretending doesn't make it go away. Acceptance means embracing the fact that we're all different without placing a value judgment on it - one set of abilities isn't better or worse than another, just different.
This picture is of me with my friend Unique, who passed away a few years ago. For Unique, the wheelchair heart symbol and what it represented was one thing that could usually make her smile even when she was having a really hard time. She talked about how people always looked at her wheelchair as a negative, but the symbol made her feel accepted." - Stacey