What is Normal Anyway? We are More Than a Diagnosis
When we look at the standard idea of what normal is, instead of relying on limited dictionary definitions of the word, it helps to look at the concept of normal in a way meaning what is usual for a certain person. When someone does the best that they can do, that may be considered normal for them. In a world of disability labels, the word normal doesn’t always come up, but it should.
Every person with Spina Bifida, with other disabling conditions or diseases, or who is in a wheelchair can be considered normal in their own way. We just need to look at what the possibilities are for achievement and what the person ultimately achieves. When an expectant mother is told her child will be born with a disability or conditions that can limit certain areas of the child’s life, the usual feelings are those of confusion, sadness and perhaps feelings of being overwhelmed by the diagnosis.
People are so Much More Than a Diagnosis
All human beings are born with varying levels of potential. The best that any parent can do is to nurture their child and do everything possible to bring out that child’s uniqueness and full potential, without paying a lot of attention to what is usually considered to be normal. The unknown is a scary thing. It’s filled with concerns and challenges.
When a parent is told their child will be born different from others, with a physical or mental handicap or with health challenges that will require surgery and therapies, it can often lead to feeling distraught because their original ideas of what would happen when they had a child are completely turned upside down. This challenging diagnosis might not be normal in the conventional sense of the word, but it quickly becomes their normal. It helps if parents understand that fears for the future of the child are perfectly natural.
It Helps to Find Strong Support Resources
Today more than at any other time in history, parents and anyone faced with a diagnosis of potential or future disability have more resources available to them. They can learn about the condition they or their child has been diagnosed with. The Internet has opened completely new worlds to people who are seeking information, support, comfort and a place to share their experiences. Support groups are plentiful, along with good medical information that people can find which is helpful and comforting.
The smartest move is to trust the physicians in charge of caring for your child. At the same time, it’s nice to get extra information or to get confirmation of what you’ve been told to expect in your child’s future. Family and friends can also be a supportive lifeline to rely on when you face challenges. Sometimes when we’re faced with newly diagnosed disability labels for a child or for ourselves, or with a shocking medical diagnosis, just having a sympathetic ear to listen to our concerns can be an amazing asset.
The Small Victories are Uplifting
It doesn’t take long for a parent with a child who has been diagnosed with Spina Bifida or any one of hundreds of other challenging medical diagnoses to learn that their new normal will become one of celebrating every small achievement and victory. Things they may have been told their child will not be able to do will either happen the way they were told, or the child will shock everyone and be able to do some of those things. This leads to more acceptance of and feeling thrilled for the things that they are ultimately able to do.
People who must use a wheelchair to get around are often some of the most resilient, strongest people you’ll ever meet. Not normal by the traditional definition, but their own special version of normal. You’ll often find that they go into life facing challenges head on and persevering until they’re able to reach the goals they set for themselves. Each new hurdle is viewed as or turned into a potential for more achievement. Milestones become things to cherish when they are achieved.
Why Not Try Celebrating Differences?
Instead of resorting to disability labels, it might be better to try looking at it from a viewpoint of celebrating people’s differences. Look at artists, musicians, actors, actresses and creative people from all walks of life. If they adhered to a strict idea of what “normal” is, wouldn’t they have followed a more traditional path for their life? This might have meant finishing high school, continuing to college, getting a traditional job, buying a home, settling down and having 1.5 children. Just look at the different life they’ve chosen for themselves and the way that life is celebrated through their achievements.
This all happens because they chose a totally different and brilliantly creative path to follow for their lives. Not normal, but it is normal for them. Those in a wheelchair or who are faced with medical, physical or intellectual challenges are in a similar situation. They are not taking a traditional path to success, but they are doing everything they’re capable of doing.
Accomplishments That are Different are Still Achievements
People with physical or intellectual challenges may have accomplishments, but those accomplishments may not be exactly like those of other people. Their achievements are different, and they are a reason for celebration when the person is doing the best they can. The best way to look at it is in the light of celebrating differences instead of pointing out differences, shunning or rejecting them. We grow as people and become happier when we are able to look past differences and strive to have a more understanding demeanor towards others who are different.
It’s incredible and impressive how much people are able to learn from those who face life in a different way. Think back to videos you’ve seen or people you’ve met who have challenges and still manage to get by. Look at the person with missing limbs who is still able to write, brush their teeth, move around, drive a vehicle and more. Their strong, persistent character shines through in everything they do. It seems as if the phrase “I can’t” is not even in their vocabulary. That phrase quickly becomes “I will find a way, even if it’s different from the way other people do things”.
Getting to Know People With Challenges
Truly getting to know someone with Spina Bifida or with any other disability is one of the best ways that you can become inspired and motivated to always do the best that you can do. Their positive example becomes a beacon of inspiration and a source of strength to encourage you to keep pushing through tough times. The tendency is to develop an attitude of perseverance and an ethos of being willing to do whatever it takes to achieve goals.