I was born with both of my disabilities, cerebral palsy, and low vision. Being the second to youngest of six children, I wasn’t treated any differently, so it wasn’t until I started school that I realized I was different to other kids. I couldn’t keep up with them or participate in their games, so I spent a lot of time on my own. Although I was mainstreamed, I also spent some time at the Cerebral Palsy Unit in Rotorua, which my Mum said was a difficult time for her as she wasn’t allowed to visit me initially, especially when I went through some major surgeries during that time.
School was a struggle in the ’70s and early 80’s as there wasn’t the support for kids with disabilities in mainstream education. Most were still institutionalized. I didn’t achieve very high academically, but by the time I left home at 18 had all the social skills I needed. Although I’m the only one of my siblings born with disabilities, like many families others have their own challenges.
Think of your own family… either your siblings or your own children, everyone is challenged in their own way, some have visual challenges that are evident to see, while others you would never know.
Imagine if I had let my differences define me, I wouldn’t be running Adaptive Technology Solutions! I wouldn’t be helping make technology accessible to everyone! I wouldn’t be working with the amazing Social Change Agency Be Lab & I certainly wouldn’t have been named in the Queen’s Birthday Honours as a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for Services to People with Disabilities, which was a huge achievement!
I don’t let my disabilities define me!
Don’t let your differences define you!