anyone made the choice to deliberately circulate and act as if your handicap was incidental, rather than a central part of your life?
As I contemplate moving to a very big college with a choice of living in a convenient and unrealistically obstacle-free residence for disabled students of a standard residence hall which is merely ADA compliant, I wonder if I am not much better off in the regular place.
I visited the college recently and found an entire social system around disability. As if shared disability, like a shared background or philosophy, was a good thing to build an identity around. This stuck me as easy, convenient, and not necessity a good thing.
There may also be another darker side to the university's offer to gather disabled students into one place. I suspect that we are a little upsetting. Does a happy, bouncy, healthy, college freshman, ----her world a bright place, her future wonderfully stretching before her like a golden paved road,---- want to b reminded that any second a drink driver can hit her car and make her disabled?
Does she want to look at ruined and paralyzed legs and wonder if tomorrow it might be her?
Is it fair to subject others to my problems?
In coming back to high school after my injury, one surprising fact was that my friends, ----accustomed to running track with me, dancing, playing softball with me, ---- were far more upset than I expected. They were not empathizing with me; they were reacting to the realization that it could have been them.
Anyway, I'm looking for comments and advice. Am I over-optimistic thinking I can blend in, just be myself, and that if I self-define myself as normal-but-maybe-a-little-inconvenienced rather than 'disabled', that others will too?
Is it selfish to inflict myself on other girls my age who may not want to be constantly reminded of the possibility of a less-than-perfect future?
The question "am I selfish..." you can dismiss from your list. Whatever others learn from being around you will be a gift, including the obvious truth that if something happens to a person they can get on with their life.
Whether or not to go into a regular dorm? Depends on the set up. Some dorms will have elevators and large stalls in the bathroom such that you need only request safety bars and a flip down seat in one shower. That is inexpensive for a school. Look carefully at the facilities. If a building is older and lacks adequate floor space for you to get into your own and your friends rooms to socialize, then that would be a constant source of irritation and lost time. If you can cope with the spaces (watch for carpet!) then go for it. You clearly want to be "mainstreamed", so do it. At the same time it may be a blessing that there is a special space for disabled students where you can meet a few people and discuss shared problems.
Trust your own thinking and follow your nose, girl. Welcome to the forum.
I step in the water, but the water has moved on...
I think that it is important for you to remember why you are at college, you are there for you and your future. You are not there to serve as a warning to others or an example to others, this is your life and it is as valuable and valid as anyone else's.
Sadly, nothing is perfect, life isnt perfect and no one has a perfect body. Think of what it is that you want to be able to access at college and how you can do that and how the college can help you do that.
Study is important and your social life is too, always be proud of who you are and don't worry what other's think.
Hi Marti. Even though I’m an older female, living in my own home, I read your insights with great interest. I had been in the middle of doing a Masters degree when a car hit me and paralyzed me almost four years ago. I still haven’t completely given up on going back and finishing those remaining credits for my Masters. So, what you’ve written gives me insight into what I may be returning to. Though, of course, by now none of the students who knew me back then will be there any more. In a way, it’s to my advantage that I’m an “older female”, since no young person will necessarily think of themselves as the next candidate for paralysis just because I’m paralyzed. Also, I had no social life with the young people anyway. Nevertheless, I do see how seeing me there in class with my spascity and sometimes strained voice would put a damper on their jubilance. When they talk about a summer trip to Mexico to climb the pyramids, guess who can’t go? And when they talk about meeting at Starbucks to do a group project, guess who has no way to get there?
I can totally see how lumping all the disabled together in their own “accommodations” or “collective” could just be an easy way to shut out the unpleasant side of life from the view of the general population. Having lived a year and a half in a nursing home myself, I know the longing that I had to have a conversation with outsiders who would talk to me simply because I’m an interesting person to talk to. Seeing the “disability block” housing as you’ve described it suggests that the AB people in charge of accommodations might be thinking, “Hey, you’re disabled, so you come and deal with this fellow who can’t talk, and this girl who keeps having seizures, and this lady who needs a note taker.”