Disability, My Life, Student Life

Studies VS Physio & Stereotyping

I have always struggled to find the right balance.

Today, I want to cover two topics. One is still relating to my educational journey through school like my past three posts:

The first topic is going to discuss my challenges balancing school and physiotherapy, while the second is going to discuss stereotypes of the disabled.

Here we go.

Studies VS Physio

A major challenge that I had to overcome was the balance between my studies and my physiotherapy.

Being in a range of mainstream schools, I have always struggled to find the right balance of time management—making sure that I was attending the right lessons and doing the right level of physiotherapy which would make my physiotherapist happy.

My mainstream schools didn’t understand the full importance of the combination I need for my health and my future. During every year of my schooling, we had various meetings about my progress at school.

A teacher representative, my main teacher assistants, the head of disability at the school, my parents, my physiotherapists and I all attended the meetings to discuss my academic progress and my physical health. In every single one of the meetings, there was a constant battle on both sides of the table, both feeling their area was the most important.

Teachers were constantly requesting for my full attention and focus to be on my lessons and studies, only by doing this could I achieve the best results possible which would help shape my future.

On the other side of the table, my physiotherapists argued against this and said that there was nothing more important than my physical welfare and it should always take priory.

It has been such a continuous debate that has often become heated resulting in my mom, dad or myself being beyond anger or in tears from stress. It was always the same argument, studies or physio. Which is the most important?

The truth is, both of them have equal importance. Yes, I need good grades for my future but without the health, I wouldn’t be able to put them to use. Yes, I needed to be healthy, but without the grades, I wouldn’t be able to plan my future.

They couldn’t see this, so the arguments continued until I left school. Now, I am at university and still take regular therapy. I am better at managing my time, University extensions help with this but it is still a struggle.

 

Stereotyping 

A stereotype of a disabled person is a wheelchair user, who is an incapable, dependent person, needing twenty-four-hour care and supervision. They cannot socialise, are usually helpless and have no interest in romantic and sexual relationships.

This is a myth but are often highly associated with someone who has a disability. These stereotype views are caused by the lack of awareness of the different disabilities, encouraging prejudice. Lack of education on disabilities can increase this.Thus, causing an element of pity, changing a way a disabled person is seen, approached or spoken to, resulting in a major effect on their self-esteem.

Society doesn’t know how to act or respond when they come face to face with an individual that has a physical and noticeable disability.

Parents, in particular, seem to be afraid that an encounter with a disabled person will affect their child in some way, such as give them nightmares or mentally traumatise them.

An example of this is Cbeebies Presenter Cerrie Burnell. The BBC had many comments and requests from “concerned parents” who asked for the presenters’ removal. The reason?

Her missing arm might give their two or three-year-old nightmares. Have a look at this dailymail article.

In reality, what probably happened is that little George or baby Lucy saw Cerrie on the TV and went to their parents:

Mommy, Daddy why is that lady missing an arm?

The parents panic, thinking an innocent question from a curious child could harm them and also not knowing how to answer because they themselves did not understand. Rather than learning something with the child, they went into complaint mode, asking for Cerrie to be sacked.

Cerrie sacked equals no difficult questions equals parents at peace of mind. So, they shy away from explaining to their child about disabilities. It’s a negative stereotype that the disabled community is forced to face every minute of the day.

However, Cerrie did get a lot of support too, parents with disabled kids commented on forums saying her presence has made it easier for kids to socialise in school.

But the big issue stands, adults are unwilling to learn about disability and as a result don’t teach their kids. Stereotypes go unchanged and unchallenged. Disabled individuals are being defined by their disability, rather than their personality.

Disabled individuals are represented as living at home, highly dependent on others, when actually, there are thousands of disabled individuals in Higher Education, trying to receive a degree, job searching or are working.

I am included in this category as when I was younger, everyone automatically assumed that I attended a special school, being disabled.

When I told those that I actually went to a mainstream school, they were surprised. They didn’t think I could handle the pressure.

Disabled individuals are constantly trying to break the stereotyped labels they have to live under, changing the way people see them. However, due to the amount of prejudice already created, it is increasingly difficult.

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