A few weeks ago, you were able to get to know a little bit more about me and where I am in life…
Now here is more about me and my disability…
I have Cerebral Palsy and it affects both my legs and left arm, it has caused me to use a wheelchair and will continue to do for the rest of my life. There is no cure for Cerebral Palsy and everyone with the disability is affected differently. Cerebral Palsy can progress over time and have consequences on the individual’s physical state or their mental health. I don’t deny one bit that life has been difficult for me, but I see some people with Cerebral Palsy, who are worse than me and just want to help them as best I can.
My disability has increased over time, when I was younger I did manage to walk short distances from my bedroom to the bathroom, but as years went on, my leg muscles have grown much tighter and I have had to stop walking. Growing too big for a pushchair with supports, I got manual wheelchairs. I hated having to rely on others to push me around and I couldn’t go to see and play with my friends under my own steam. It was very, very annoying. But when I turned 12, I got given my first electric wheelchair. Being able to use these electric wheelchairs gave me a big confidence boost and has allowed me to become independent! Over recent years, I have noticed that my Cerebral Palsy has increased in my right hand as well as my left side, I can still use my right hand for most things, but I have found that I have poor motor skills and I not write very fast. My Cerebral Palsy has also affected my mental state in some form, I struggle with my concentration and cannot comprehend everything I am told the first time.
As a child, I was bullied for a very long time and I had to suffer horrible comments directed at myself as well as being talked about behind my back. I don’t know why but the one that is always stuck with me all these years is “she should be called Sophie ‘not so’ Abel” very original and this Wasn’t the only abusive language and bullying I had to endure. These years of bullying, though difficult to overcome and haunting me to this day has made me more fierce and numb towards other such situations and 22 years of stereotyping.
I have always felt stereotyped in one way or another throughout my life. Everyone with every disability is affected differently to the next person. But everyone with a disability can achieve as much and as high as they want too, having their own hopes and dreams. But people who don’t know me and often hospital professionals underestimate me, assuming that I am unable to do the simplest of things for myself and I I am cared for minute by minute all day every day by a relative or the carer and are rather shocked when I tell them that I can do things for myself and that I am studying at a high academic level, have my own thoughts that aren’t”t influenced by others and have very strong plans for the future.
My Cerebral Palsy does affect my day-to-day living and I have to constantly take into account the effects of my disability in everything I do but I tried to overcome the barriers that I am faced with as best as I can. I have to use an electric wheelchair in my daily life as I have poor mobility issues and this is the only way I can get around independently. This makes me have to probably have to a lot of pre-planning and can’t do anything spontaneously as I need to check accessibility and everything else so I am able to have a good night out with friends and family without any difficulties. If the location that I want to go to is too far to walk I have to put all my trust into a limited number of taxi companies which I really don’t like doing as I have to trust them to get me place to place without any problems. I also have to be very cautious of how long I spend out of the house at one particular time because I have to return to use the bathroom as I need to use a hoist and it is often public places don’t have a disabled toilet with a hoist which is definitely a disadvantage for me when I go out and enjoy life.
I have fought against stereotyping my entire life and have been studying in mainstream education for the best part of seven years and my parents have supported me throughout. I am a student who has been through the same University process aa my fellow student, the research, visits to open days, interviews, taster days and applications in the hope to be accepted to my choice of University. Everything is the same, I just had to jump through a few more hoops to enable myself to attend university than my fellow students had too. I had to attend various meetings with my choice of University to go through my needs and the support I need when at the University. To help me with the University support and care I need, I also had to apply for Disabled Student Allowance, which I have found very beneficial in my years at University. I have had many people dispute and disapprove my choice to go to University as they underestimate my abilities and they didn’t feel I could handle the high expectations that Universities have at this level of study. Being underestimated greatly annoys me especially by people who don’t even know me, they have no right to assume things and pass judgement. My parents are the only people whose opinions really care about and consider when making important decisions like going to University and they have always fought by my side so I am able to achieve what I want to achieve in life.
After I studied Media Production at Bournville College for two years which I really, really enjoyed, I attended many open days viewing different courses to see which ones I wanted to go too. I completed the entire University process and finally decided to go to Southampton Solent University to study Media, Culture and Production. I don’t want to go into the full details of my experience at this university but the initial preparation to study here was made easier by the support I received from the people involved in disability support as well as members of staff who was in line to teach me on this course. Unfortunately for one reason and another I pulled out of Southampton Solent University after my first year and righted a few wrongs and spent time away to readjust my perspective on life.
A year later I reapplied and went through the whole University and preparation process all over again, this time securing a place at De Montfort University studying Creative Writing and Journalism. This time the whole University process was somewhat easier to when I applied at Southampton Solent University. My disability has caused me to stay in halls of residence on the edge for all three years of study at this University. I have been lucky that my room has been specially adapted to suit my wheelchair needs and my requirements while at University. As houses do not have the correct disability requirements such as a hoist which I need to get in and out of my wheelchair and in and out the bathroom, I have had to stay in the same halls of residence and in the same room for all three years, Living with a different group of freshers each year. I have PAs to assist me in my daily living while at De Montfort University with my care needs as well as academic support. I have to rely heavily on my PAs, trusting them to help with my daily needs, but I do find the support very beneficial especially in the classroom at this time in my studies.
The halls of residence that I have stayed at for three years is only a short walk away from campus. The campus is a wide open space, but when it is packed, I do struggle to get into it and find my way through it to where I want to go. But I love the campus, it is beautiful. The buildings I have my classes have many floors, but there are lifts I can use so there is no problem there. The corridors and classrooms are very, very tight spaces, especially with the number of people in one room at the time of the different classes. I have carefully wind my way through everything and everyone to get where I need to go. The desks in the classroom are of a very low height which my wheelchair can’t underneath. I sit with my friends and work on my tablet as many tasks in the classrooms involve group work.
Some of my journalism classes involve practical tests and computer software which I struggle to use but I find other ways around it, I make sure to communicate any issues and difficulties to my tutors so we can find ways around the challenges so I am able to achieve the same as my fellow classmates. My tutors are very calm, considerate and have patience. I struggle to keep up with the level of work I have so I do have extensions, so I am able to complete my work.
Despite many difficulties that my disability causes for me and my challenging University experiences and the difficulties they cause me I am the same as any other 22 years old, I love going out with my group of friends, to the cinema, for a bite to eat or to go shopping in the local city centre. I have a very close group of loyal friends who are very supportive and I am able to be myself and we take part in activities which we can all do and enjoy together, there is no pressure from any of us to push ourselves or try to hard and just enjoy our day out together. Often I find an excuse to go out and dress up for the occasion. As well as going out and enjoying the nightlife around the different cities I also would be more than happy to sit in my room, watching Netflix in my Gryffindor or Ravenclaw sweats.
I am an avid reader whose favourite books include JK Rowling’s Harry Potter series, The Twilight Saga by Stephanie Meyer, The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins, The Divergent Collection by Veronica Roth and Darkest Minds series by Alexandra Bracken as well as many more. I also love the film interpretations of these books as well as various other films. Above all else, I absolutely love writing in my collection of notebooks my dream is to become a fantasy-fiction writer in the future.
I don’t see my disability is a barrier I see it as a part of my life that I just have to embrace in everyday life and continue towards my goals and aspirations in life.
I am first a foremost a writer, I always have been and always will be!