My experience with ability in disability

“A hero is an ordinary individual who finds the strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles.” – Christopher Reeve

For me, disability never existed as a special word. My father used to walk with the help of a stick/walker due to half-body paralysis after a spinal cord slipped disc. But I never saw it as a disability, as for me during my growing years it was a regular and normal thing around me. I never thought it was something special or needed attention. I think I saw the ability in disability of my father.

For years I even experienced his short temperament and irritable behavior. Now I connect that it could have been a mental disability. I always thought it was normal father-figure behavior. There was no awareness to accept any ability or disability, maybe because he had already accepted it. The journey would not have been an easy one, to self-acceptance and not feeling neglected. 

Wish I had an understanding of what was going on in his mind. I Wish, I could have spent more sensible time with him to understand the behavioral patterns and moods he was trying to tell us about, and how he was coping with his disability. I truly wish there was more awareness and acceptance and people around him were more empathetic rather than sympathetic. Why it is so difficult to accept ability in disability of any kind? Even left-handers or shy people are seen as if they are aliens. Why are humans so adamant about acceptance? 

Acceptance

From my growing years to my not-so-mature years I learned a lot and regretted a bit too in the journey of acceptance. Being unaware cost me a lot. Not being able to understand the mental as well as physical disability my father was suffering with. But with age, experience, and time I understood a different angle, and for me, every specially challenged human is a superhero and Wonderwoman. For all the efforts they put in to normalize their lives, to accept disability without treating it as a different ability, and never-say-no spirit. I remember my father use to ride a scooter and I never felt he had any issues with that. Maybe he had well accepted himself, and that made me think all is well.

In recent times I met a visually impaired boy who is well aware of all the routes of his city, sings wonderful songs, and even can sense how many people are in the room. I was in awe at the fact that how well he had accepted himself. Unknowingly they push themselves for something beyond their control, which could be exhausting and make no sense to others at all. They want everyone else to see them positively, yet it gets negative with how they saw or treated themselves. It’s all about perspective, to see ability in disability or the other way round.

Whenever I think of my father, I now realize that his frustration could have been because of the fact, that he must be feeling useless and empty, especially when he was not able to do the same work or activities as he did before. It can be incredibly difficult to accept your disability. It feels like giving in. It’s tough but important to let go of the past and accept where you are today.

Learnings

In march 2019, I got a WhatsApp message for a google form to help visually impaired students. It was an easy task involving recording and telling stories. Both the things of recording and storytelling are what I love to do. I can complete and share the task via WhatsApp, right from the comfort of my home. The message was shared in the family group. 

That day, I kept on thinking the whole night about the form and that NGO. The audiobook and form were long gone from my list of thoughts. I was thinking about whether audiobooks were really helpful to the visually impaired and how has been the experience of studying with them. The only thought on my mind was that I wanted to do this and I wanted to help all the students out there. I don’t know sign language or braille but this is one thing I can do and I want to help all the students out there.

Then began the journey of knowing more about these students. I use to think about all the types of difficulties they face in daily life, studies, travel, food, play, etc. I realized that there were many aspects of their identity that were taken away. Leaving them questioning who they are, what their value is, and where they fit in society. 

That’s why it’s important to find new things that make you feel good about yourself—things that give you a renewed sense of meaning and purpose. Is it why you all are so creative and innovative? That takes me back to those young kids who don’t have hands but sketch and paint awesome drawings and paintings with their feet. Even you can’t say with your mouth but your art pieces, sculptures, and creativity speak volumes of your talent. this proves that talent isn’t something only the ‘abled’ can lay claim to. This is the hidden ability in disability. 

“There is no greater disability in society than the inability to see a person as more.” – Robert M. Hensel

Findings

I learned acceptance and empathy from my father. The way he made it look so normal for me to accept disability. He followed a normal routine. He had accepted himself without ignoring his emotions or suppressing his feelings. And, then my association with the visually challenged helped me understand and see the world from a different angle. Even without seeing any colors, they are so alive with colors of sense, awareness, sensation, and understanding.

I still remember the doctor saying that “We haven’t seen such great willpower in any patient”. My dad was shaving before his 9-hour spinal cord slipped disc operation. This statement stayed with me for years. Riding his scooter, even his car with hand brakes, traveling, and even sustaining alone when he had to stay during long treatments. He was always an example of strength, willpower, grit, and determination. 

My big salute to all who are fighting a daily battle with themselves as well as life. Adapting to routine life, to accept disability, is not easy, but we can ensure it’s neither difficult too. Have seen them learn to cope with their limitations, and challenges and lead a rewarding life that is truly exemplary. There is immense ability in disability. We are in awe when we see them fight, but there goes a lot of struggle and effort to make it look simple. Sadly we treat them with sympathy instead of empathy. They just need their ability to be accepted and included, not questioned.  

Gratitude

Most of us expect to live long, healthy lives. But, when you’re hit by a disabling illness or injury it sure triggers a lot of fears and unsettling emotions. Millions have traveled this road before and found ways to not just survive, but thrive. This feeling of not giving up and trying constantly is what makes you stand apart. Things are more difficult for you with the limitations you have to deal with. But with commitment, and a willingness to do things differently, you reduce the impact of your disability that has on your life.

While struggling with a disability, you might go thru days where you feel alone and misunderstand too. You might feel like isolating yourself and withdrawing too. But have faith and never lose hope. Stay connected and be creative and open in your outlook.

If you have a loved one, a colleague, or come across even a stranger with disabilities, don’t burden them, instead try to normalize. Poor treatment and negative comment can affect their self-esteem, confidence, and performance at the workplace and push them into further depression. Please try to respect their personal space. Be mindful and accept disability with ease. There is no need for life to be this difficult for those with disabilities. Don’t assume, or patronize. We need, a healthy society that encourages positive attitudes toward individuals with disabilities and promotes social inclusion. 

“Your present circumstances don’t determine where you can go; they merely determine where you start.” – Nido Qubein

Birth of a mission

With all my learnings, findings, and experience, to accept disability, I feel gratitude for all the humans who are fighting and challenging the daily battle of life. You all are the real heroes for finding talent and strength in yourself. Society calls you weak or disabled but you are far far better than a normal human. Today, I’m a podcaster and I truly thank that opportunity that made me realize how voice/ vocal messages are a great way to reach people. That one evening completely changed my perspective and thought process. For a long, I kept on reading about visual challenges, and from that evening onwards, I had a different angle of thought. I filled out the form immediately and even started recording the pages.

Later after recording those chapters I even started a podcast of stories titled – “Tale-A-Katha”. I recorded our good old stories, so my voice and these stories can be heard and reach all ears. They are specially meant for those, who have not even seen the light of day. For those who don’t have anyone to tell them stories right away. Whenever my kiddo is reading a story I feel there is another child who can’t see the book but all I can do is record the same story so at least they can hear it.

Ability in Disability

Life is what we make of it. It tests us to see how much can we handle and what are we made of. Sometimes it just puts us in great hands. Everyone is put into tough spots in their lives almost every day. We are constantly being checked for our capabilities. In these tests and spots, we have two options – either give up and fall down or fight on. And in all this, our specially-abled people stand apart. They not only fight their disability but also the mental as well as societal factors too. We need to just accept it.

There is ability in disability too. All I request is acceptance and inclusion for every human being irrespective of his ability or even disability. It’s a dynamic process and we need to teach this to our kids too from a younger age. As you would acknowledge any capability or unique trait, learn to acknowledge their differences too in a similar way. Treat them “as normal.” They also work, even vote, sometimes volunteer, sign documents, and even pay taxes. When they do all things others do, why treat them as abnormal? Just treat them the way you would want to be treated in a similar situation. They need your acceptance, not your sympathy. Let them take more time to finish a task, let them find their own ways to tackle a situation, and let them try their ways to find a solution. 

Being an eco-blogger, lastly, all I can say is, when nature never differentiates between us, who are we to create differences? Accept each individual with his/her individual uniqueness and identity. Sun never chooses whom to give light or warmth to, Moon never shines to differentiate, the Rain never falls after checking your ability and the wind never flows after choosing the person. Learn acceptance and inclusion from nature. 

This post is a part of the “International Day of Disabled Persons” blog hop hosted by Sakshi Varma – Tripleamommy in collaboration with Bookosmia. Access all posts of #IDPD2022Bloghop here.

 

In addition, if you are looking for an eco-friendly life, join me on a mission to raise awareness and adopt more sustainable practices. You can even listen to my #GreenTalks, Support, share, and try to bring that one change in your life toward a greener tomorrow. Along with Eco-friendly discussions, I even share Positive stories of people bringing beautiful change to this world. I also have other podcasts if something interests you do tune in for PanchTatwa Girl.

I’m just a simple eco-conscious human requesting everyone to love this planet and put in that little effort toward a better and greener tomorrow. Learning to be more environmentally friendly is easier than you think. You don’t have to jump in by changing everything, start small to make the changes more sustainable and a part of your normal life. 

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24 Responses

  1. Sivaranjini says:

    If nature dosent diffentiate who are we to do so. That is going to be there with me. May your work for the visually challenged give you joy.

  2. Thanks for sharing your inspiring journey starting from experiencing first-hand in your family to evolving with helping blind kids. I liked 2 core ideas
    A. Empathy vs Sympathy
    B. Ability in disability

    Of course, “Nature Never Differentiates” is a very powerful message.

    Sachin Jakhotia
    https://shlokabiity.blogspot.com/

  3. sakshi Varma says:

    Really glad to read about the various initiatives that you are taking and so proud that you are making a positive difference in people’s lives. Keep going and all the best for your ventures!

  4. Era of Illumination says:

    Nice narrative…Its nice to learn about your initiatives…All the very best for the future..

  5. I think that classifying people based on caste, religion, ethnicity or disability is wrong. People are individuals and should be treated as such. We are all different and we should celebrate our differences.When you put people into groups and then judge them on that basis, it creates division and conflict. It also leads to discrimination and prejudice. People should be judged on their individual merits, not on the basis of which group they belong to.What really matters is what kind of person someone is. Are they kind? Are they honest? Do they have integrity? These are the things that matter, not superficial things like caste, religion, ethnicity or disability.

  6. MeenalSonal says:

    I completely agree with you that it is our perspective, to see ability in disability. The bonding between a daughter and a father is really very special and your every word pours out the beautiful connection.

  7. Veda Venkatesh says:

    I am moved to read your account of your father, your growing-up years, and subsequent personal growth. To reflect on our experiences and ennoble our thinking as a consequence is the real sign of a mature and kind human being, and its amply clear that you are one of a kind. May your tribe grow.

  8. mugdha kalra says:

    Loved tuning in to your podcast. You have a lovely voice.

  9. Nidhi says:

    It is wonderful how you are using basic technology to help people out, through your podcast and audio stories. Not just visually challenged, but also dyslexic people will benefit immensely from it. I also admire your talking about the mental health aspects about living with disability- both as the one affected and the caregivers- My big salute to all who are fighting a daily battle with themselves as well as life.

  10. Sreeparna Sen says:

    You are an inspiration. May the almighty gives you more power for the noble job you have taken up. To see the ability in disability one needs to be specially empathetic. Kudos to you for that

  11. pregnancy says:

    Thanks for sharing your info. I truly appreсiate your efforts and I
    am waiting for your next рost thanks once again.

  12. Jayapadma says:

    From the personal story to how you’ve tried to fill gaps in the lives of people with different abilities, all are truly inspiring. Keep doing what you do.

  13. Jeannine says:

    It all comes down to how we view things. Sometimes, that’s where others will depend on how to react toward you. The story you shared with your father is truly an extraordinary story and really heartfelt. Appreciate you sharing it!

  14. Manas Mukul says:

    It takes a lot of courage to bring out emotions which are close to our past experiences. I have the privilege of listening to these from you first hand. Hope you find the desired peace. Keep the awesome work going.

    #ContemplationOfaJoker #Jokerophilia

  15. AANCHAL KAPUR says:

    Well said ability in disability is the only way to approach this reality!

  16. Svetha says:

    Yours is an inspiring story – Your father’s life helped you learn to have a much broader understanding of what we consider “normal” and love how you have taken it forward to a much bigger platform. Audiobooks and podcasts are such a fantastic way to make sure that forms of both education and entertainment don’t get consumed by only those who have the privilege of being literate or being able to see and learn alphabets.

  17. aanchal says:

    human beings are responsible for messing up what nature creates and this is what needs to change! thanks for sharing the main thought of ‘ability in disability’

  18. What a wonderful thought, Pragun! Two key powerful takeaways from your post are that there is ability in disability and when nature doesn’t discriminate, why should we? This post is going to stay with me for long. Sharing it with a few loved ones too. Thanks for writing this.

  19. shveta mishra says:

    Your experience with your father’s acquired disability has made you the person that you are today, empathetic, action taker, thinker and an activist who has decided to do something to contribute where you thought was most essential. Feel very proud of you as a woman and as a person

    • PraGun says:

      You are so kind and I’m thankful for the words you have written. Thank you very much, but there is a lot yet to be done and make everyone acceptable. Yes, My dad’s been a silent teacher, who taught me experience and life by just being there.

  20. Archana Londhe says:

    I liked the sensitivity with which you have written this post. Your experience with your father helped me to understand my son’s thinking better.

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