At the end of the article “Disability and narrative: new directions for medicine and the medical humanities” Rebecca Garden states, “However, rather than ‘coping with’ or ‘overcoming’ their impairments, many disabled people see their impairments as integral to their lives.” This may have been the most important, and overlooked, message regarding new directions in medicine for working with people with disabilities. I would like to share a personal story that illustrates this point.
I’ve been short all my life, but always just too tall to be considered disabled. When I lived in China, every adult was always trying to get me to grow, like I had a choice in the matter. They’d either bring up the fact that I can’t get a job since there’s a height requirement for pretty much every occupation (I wanted to be a teacher and the height requirement for that was the ability to reach the top of the chalkboard) or they’d have these false hopes and reassured me over and over again that I simply have one last growth spurt to hit (at that time, I was visiting family and already 18 years old). I was fine with my height and the incessant chatter was extremely discouraging and annoying. When I came to America and learned that most civilian jobs had no height requirement, I was so happy to be leaving the Chinese thinking regarding height impairment. Here, in the land of accessibility ramps, being short would not affect my life style and I can go into any career that I’d like. I will no longer hear people sigh at me or look down upon me, no pun intended.
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