Blog Challenge Week 1: My Connection to Disability

This summer I’m taking a Blog Challenge – an amazing opportunity to read more from those in the disability community and to get me back in the habit of writing more frequently. Read more from other bloggers participating in the hop – links at the bottom of this post. I’m excited about this opportunity. The topics are a bit meatier than usual, and reading ahead on some of the weekly topics I can see I’m going to be challenged by some of the prompts.

To start, we’re describing our connection to disability.

You know my main connection: my sweet daughter, Rowenna. Many of you have been reading here for years and are quite familiar with this little ray of sunshine in my life. But I have another connection, too: my brother-in-law. (BIL)

My brother-in-law is hubby’s oldest sibling. I first met him 10 years ago when I first visited hubby’s family on their farm.

When I look back on it now, hubby really did the best thing possible: he always talked about his brother, but never made his disability a big deal. In fact, I didn’t even know he had a disability until I met him in person. So I had this vision in my head of this older brother, and hubby’s love for him was evident, and when I learned he had a disability, it didn’t change what I knew to be true about him in the first place: that he was a brother, kind-hearted, talkative, curious.

I don’t have a chance to see BIL very often, so our friendship has had a slow growth curve over the years. I do know this: he is an excellent brother. He loves whole-heartedly. He is devout in his faith. He loves music, especially Johnny Cash and music from the 50s. He enjoys his job and he loves to mow lawns. He is gentle with his nieces, and thinks of all of us often. I am very glad to have him in my life.

I see my BIL, the life he leads, the life his siblings and parents lead, and I know there is nothing to fear in Rowenna’s future. While Rowenna is her own person with her own developmental curve and future, my brother-in-law shows me what can be possible with natural/community supports, trust in my child’s ability, and a little faith in my fellow human beings.

I am connected to the disability community in other ways as well – through the fabulous advocates I met during my Partners in Policymaking training, through the children of friends I have met since Rowenna’s birth, through my day-to-day interactions in the world. Though I have two obvious connections, I would argue all of us have one in some form or another. Some people’s diagnosis may be obvious, others more subtle, but in the course of our day-to-day actions, all of us come into contact with individuals with disabilities. The 2010 census shows that nearly 1 in 5 Americans have a disability.

So while my blog gives you a little glimpse into Rowenna’s world, I encourage you all to consider your own connection to disability. I encourage you to see disability as just another way of being, and at 1 in 5, a pretty normal part of this human experience.

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