Let’s Talk AAC Blog: Communicators in Action

Ambassadors are real people who share their stories of everyday life as a person using AAC.

Exfiltrate Comfort Zone, Infiltrate Glory

Posted September 6, 2016 in Communicators in Action

Being borne with a physical disability (severe by definition which has always perplexed me as I don’t see my disability being very severe), I have always needed assistance with quite a lot of tasks. From the time I was borne until I was about nineteen, I lived with my parents and three brothers. Between all five of them, I very rarely went without something I needed, care-wise anyway.

By Brad Whitmoyer

Brad

Being borne with a physical disability (severe by definition which has always perplexed me as I don't see my disability being very severe), I have always needed assistance with quite a lot of tasks. From the time I was borne until I was about nineteen, I lived with my parents and three brothers. Between all five of them, I very rarely went without something I needed, care-wise anyway. Of course every now and then I had to wait until somebody had time to help me like any kid has to but this was a pretty beneficial aspect that has made me who I am today. I was not treated “special” just because I had a disability. I think this gave me two very important characteristics. The first was the blunt truth that I was not above any rules or should expect preferential treatment. The other is the hatred of having to rely on others to help me with tasks. Now, let me make a clarification before proceeding. This hatred was not directed toward anyone at all, I fortunately understood that this was a part of life. Not to mention I could also see that even my brothers had to wait for things which made it clear that it wasn't always related to me being disabled. Of course I would still get frustrated and impatient at times, I was a kid after all!

I lived with my parents until I was about nineteen or twenty years old and it wasn't until this time that I really started coming up with ways to be independent. It wasn't until recently that I began wondering why. I have always been a creative person, in the way of engineering, and had more resources at hand with all of my brothers and dad around. Not to mention, more financially free so I could acquire virtually any kind of materials I needed. I would get ideas here and there for inventions but nothing life changing. The answer that I have come up with as to why I didn't start being independent and coming up with inventions until I moved out is pretty simple and can be summed up in a single word, necessity!

People, myself included obviously, get trapped in a so-called “comfort zone”. This term is a rather interesting concept really because if you think about comfort, I at least, think of a place or area in which you are happy and comfortable but this is not always the case. In my case, I was in a comfort zone but hated having to rely on others for various things. I have come to realize that a comfort zone is really a place where you are familiar with and either you don't want to change it due to the way it might make you feel, not having enough of a reason to, or a combination of the two. Mine was definitely the lack of a reason to change since I always had family around who could help me with whatever I needed. Even though I hated having to wait sometimes, waiting was easier than figuring something out to help myself.

When I moved out of my parents' and into my own apartment, needless to say it was a pretty big change to what I was use to in the sense of always having someone around to help me! When I first moved out, I had people who would stay the night with me which meant I had someone to help me from early evening until sometime the next morning and I was on my own throughout the day until someone came back in the evening. This really wasn't a big change from when I was living with my parents' as sometimes I would stay home alone. Also, I was in college so some days I was at school. This lasted a little while, until I felt comfortable in my apartment by myself over-night. Once I stopped having people stay over-night with me, a whole new set of challenges came around. Things such as what happens if I needed to go to the bathroom in the night, or what if I didn't want to go to bed when it was time for the night person to leave or about fifty other what-ifs.

It was at this time that I really started figuring out how to do things for myself. I remember the first thing I figured out how to do for myself was getting myself into bed by myself. Since I was in college and could type about ten words per minute, this was a necessity as I would have to get home work done by sometimes pulling all-nighters. I won't bore you with every story of every ability I have gained since moving out of my parents' thirteen years ago but I will tell you that the feeling of every new ability I've gained is indescribable. I'm even still gaining new abilities even today. For example, I just within the past year figured out a feasible way of giving myself something to eat so that I don't have to wait on someone to come and feed me. If I had not moved out and gotten out of the comfort zone of my parents', I would have never needed to figure any of this stuff out and probably never would have. If you ever hear or read about self-improvement, you will most likely hear that you must get out of your comfort zone. I'm here telling you that it is absolutely necessary!