"Like Me"

Written By

Grace Burnham

My child is disabled.


Like me.


My whole body relaxes he is.


Like me.


Joy turns into fear the world will treat him.


Like me.


He will face so many obstacles, new ones daily.


Like me.


The world wasn't built for people like him, he will need to find space in it.


Like me.


My doctor said if I have more kids my partner should carry them, she thinks I make kids that are defective.


Like me.


The medical professional I trust to care for my family thinks we should prevent our own existence showing that if they had the chance the world would get rid of us, those like him and

Like me.


I am reminded he will have an advocate, I will fight for him, I won’t tolerate -discrimination, I will not give up. I will listen. However I am concerned it won’t be enough, I can’t be effective when so often they don’t listen to someone

Like me.


And so they question if I'm the right person to care for him. Worried I won't normalize him. They are right, I won't.  In our shared experience, I am uniquely qualified to help him figure out how to find the ways. Seek the sources. Make the mistakes. He needs to in order to be himself existing in an inaccessible stigmatized world.


Like me.


When the world wants to bend him into shapes he doesn't fit into, to wear a mask, to avoid doing what he needs to take care of himself.  My defense will be to hold a space for him just as he is. I am not his voice because I know  my work is to help him find his own.


Like me.


My child is not a clone, he is so different is so many ways but he can communicate with me in a language only spoken by people who's neurons are torqued. A language he and I experience with many in spaces for disabled people.


Like me.


Our home is one such space a colorful sanctuary from the abled world and when he leaves I am so proud of the ways he has found to make spaces for himself and other people

Like me.


My child is disabled it is my joy, his gift, a fight we share with many not within ourselves but with the abled world set up to hide and change all the people.


Like us.

Grace Burnham is a multiply-disabled student at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. She is also queer and a parent to two adorable children. Her research focuses on how the law, medicine and society interact with women, queer, and disabled people.

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