by Jamie Kirkby
To some people, having diverse abilities is a negative thing. However, my mother taught me the best thing about having diverse abilities is independence and the freedom to set my own life pathways. Independence to me means having the power to be my own person, having the freedom to speak while being heard, and having the opportunity to make my own decisions.
I thought I would never make it to college or get a career working with children. But instead of giving up, I’m learning to put in the necessary adaptations and make the most of my life even with the challenges. My main goal is to finish my education so that I can become a special needs education assistant. I have started steps to reach my goal by babysitting and volunteering with children to get experience for working in the future.
I am also working on my self advocacy skills. I want people to listen to what I have to say and what is important to me. I have started to attend appointments on my own to practice using my voice instead of others doing it for me. Even if I can’t speak verbally in the moment, I have prepared backups such as communication cards to help get my voice heard.
My path to independence has taught me that if you work hard and put your mind to something you can succeed. Something that has really helped me in my journey was taking time to learn about myself first, and then making a plan to become more of an independent person.
Becoming independent doesn’t just happen overnight and that is okay. We all need help sometimes in our lives and needing extra support from each other is what makes us all human.