Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Give Me a Q, Give Me a U....

Years ago after I acquired quadriplegia, I bought a book named something along the lines of The Pep Coach. It was a series of short pep talks on various topics aimed to motivate the reader. At the time I felt stuck and really believed that motivation was my problem. It took meeting others with disabilities to understand that what I needed was not a pep talk, but a way to find resources and equipment to work and live.

I was fortunate enough to meet many others with spinal cord injuries while playing adaptive sports. I saw how they worked around real issues such as accessible housing, transportation, specialized computers, and home care if needed. I was astounded to discover that many solutions were out there which up until then no one had told me about. Meanwhile I was, so to speak, spinning my wheels trying to discover solutions, many of which weren't working or were time consuming. I may have appeared unmotivated to friends and family, but the truth was I didn't have what I needed to be mobile and productive.

Anyway my copy of the little pep talk book got lost along the way. Maybe one of my nondisabled friends borrowed it. Who knows? But it taught me a valuable lesson about judging a disabled person's motivation. It's necessary to be careful not to assume that the person is unmotivated prior to investigating whether he/she has access to what's necessary to accomplish a goal, like a wheelchair, a ramp, or other equipment.

Maybe a more useful approach is to forget the pep talks and work on the reality of getting more information, equipment, care and other resources to those who are motivated, but languish in the system.

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