In 1987 (aged 20) I had a water skiing accident and suffered a spinal cord injury that left me a C5/6 quadriplegic. I am passionate about improving the lives of people with a disability. I have spoken at conferences and Rotary clubs about my experiences.
John’s story is about his life with a congenital physical disability. He has never let his disability stand in the way of his goals. It was his strong desire to lead an independent life and his willingness to take risks in life that directed him to try new ways of getting support and make his own life choices.
For many people with disabilities, there are barriers to them finding who they really are. Personhood is often denied to people with disabilities because other people have control over us. If we rely on other people, we learn to become subservient. Or some people become quite loud. Yet personhood is tied up in our humanity. And that humanity, for me, involves a spiritual dimension. This is the story of my search for my personhood.
I’m Jesse Frick, I’m 23. I was diagnosed with MS (Multiple Sclerosis) nearly five-and-a-half years ago. It was about two weeks after I had turned 18 and about four weeks before I started my final exams. So it wasn’t really the best timing, really.
My name Nick Schumi, I’m twenty-five years old, I’m a Leo. I’m just a regular guy. I also happen to be born with Cerebral Palsy (CP). The kind of CP I have is called Cerebral Palsy Spastic Diplegia, which basically means the lower half of the body is mostly affected.
Tracey was the second born of our three children. She was about six months old when we found out that she had been born with a mild intellectual disability. Living in a farming community as we do, that was not easy for me or my husband to hear. We just did the best we could and took the advice of the professionals at first. She went regularly to physio and to the occupational therapist for exercises with her hands. We'd just keep putting one foot in front of the other; we didn't really know what to do.
I was born in 1951 in McLaren Vale in the family home. I grew up living at home with my family of three sisters and a brother. The family moved to Willunga when I was four, where we lived with my grandmother and grandfather who was the local doctor.
I was born in 1973 the oldest of three children. My parents built their home in the Adelaide Hills. I was born with Myoclonus Dystonia Syndrome and Autism Spectrum Disorder. The myoclonus was obvious from a very early age and as I grew I had difficulties in school with socialisation and anxiety.
Max is a seven year old boy who lives with severe dystonic Cerebral Palsy. Max uses non-verbal communication, specifically his eyes as pointers and facial cues, and uses a wheelchair for mobility. Max lives with his parents B-J and Tim, and his baby brother, Quin. He is happy and interactive and clearly a valued member of the family. He has been attending a mainstream school for two years, where he is very involved in student life.
I’m a mother of two 23-year old kids who live with me part-time. The decision to have children was very important to me. Some people were negative about the prospect of me having a baby which made me feel depressed and inadequate as a woman. I knew it would be very hard, but having a baby was a priority for my life.
I’m 19 years old, living with my parents and studying at university. I was diagnosed with an Auditory Processing Disorder (APD) when I was twelve years old, after being misdiagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) at the age of six. I was told it’s like supersonic hearing - I can hear everything around me. This makes it extremely difficult for me to discern certain sounds or focus on one particular voice. I’m bombarded with noise at all times.
Shaun’s disability occurred due to a lack of oxygen at birth. He experienced some brain damage. Back then doctors and nurses did not describe it as an intellectual disability - they just advised me to put him into an institution. Of course I refused and took him home.
I was born into a working-class family in Manchester, England in 1948, and we migrated to Australia when I was 16 years old. My parents were from Ireland. My Father died 10 years ago and my Mother is 96 years old not out. My Dad had a pretty hard life. He was born into an “Irish tinker” way of life; he only ever had contact with one family member, his Mother. He was later shot and wounded in the Second World War. He liked a drink or two and smoked all his life, but managed to live to 88 years of age. My mother’s earliest employment was as a nurse-maid. At 96 she is still better than me at crosswords.
I’m 50 years old and live with partial (also known as incomplete) quadriplegia. I had a boating accident in 1976 at Goolwa and broke my neck. It means I can’t do all the things I dreamed of when I was a kid. I lost the use of both my legs and I have only partial use of my arms. I wasn’t able to fulfill my dream of being a farmer on my parent’s farm at Kapinnie, 100 kilometres from Port Lincoln.
I’m a 32 year old woman living with Spina Bifida (SB). I am currently employed with Spinal Cord Injuries Australia as a Co-Facilitator of a Self Empowerment Program (and I love it!). I have lived on my own, independently, since September 2006. I receive personal care support but manage everything else myself.
I was born at Port Pirie in 1955. I was11 months old when I was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy (CP). Before that, I was thought to be a “lazy baby”. My parents had no knowledge of CP, and found it hard to accept there was no cure. They were advised to “Put me into the Home for Incurables and forget about me”. Thank you Mum and Dad for not taking that advice! At different times they took me to a chiropractor, a hypnotherapist and a faith healer, but no miracles!
I am a 33 year old actress living with dwarfism. I am married and live in Birmingham in the United Kingdom, but I was born and raised in Sydney.
When I was a teenager, I was like pretty much every teenager trying to assert my independence. I was a little stubborn and I wanted to do everything my friends were doing. In my small school, music was a big thing, and with a bunch of my friends starting bands, lunch times were spent at practices and weekends at shows.
In 2004 I was diagnosed with a severe form of Multiple Sclerosis (MS). I was left with no choice but to leave my adopted hometown of Melbourne - along with my friends, my sister, ex-husband and step children - to return to my original hometown of Adelaide. This was an emotionally distressing process which was sadly compounded by the passing of my dog shortly after. He was my last remaining link with Melbourne.
I am Liesa and I’m 30 years old and married to Ashley. We live in a unit down at Glenelg East, and I have what’s called a dystonic tremor. I was born with an umbilical cord wrapped around my neck, and so therefore I had a lack of oxygen at birth.
Alice is a 15 year old girl, who talks about her life journey. Despite the ineffective functioning of vocal cords she was able to work towards communicating effectively with people.