My biggest concern for my future is to be alone without my parents. Living my life with Cerebral Palsy requires me to have extra assistance, that’s where my parents have triumphantly pulled through every time. Knowing that one day, they will no longer be around is not only a sad feeling since they are my parents but, also a continuous fear that I will be without anyone who will truly know my needs.
It’s like being in a Stephen King horror movie. It’s not that I’m afraid to be on my own in the real world. I’m simply petrified about the way the world will treat me. Have you been watching the news in America? It’s not exactly embracing people with physical disabilities who use wheelchairs and other mobility devices as their only means of travel. Even in the UK, people like Tanyalee Davis, a comedian, who was recently told that a baby stroller took precedence over her mobility device! I couldn’t imagine that happening to me.
I grew up dealing with a society that can be harsh when it comes to people with physical disabilities. If it weren’t for the Americans with Disability Act, (happy birthday, ADA! You look great for 28!), who knows how much more of a discriminatory America I would be living in?
Living without my mom in my life would be a crime of the heart. When doctors said I couldn’t, my mom found a way for me to say, “I could!” She has always been my partner in crime. She is like my cat women and I’m her wonder woman. Together we fight against ignorance against those who doubt my abilities to do anything.
I grew up with a mom who has been and continues to be my strongest advocate. How else can I learn to get my voice heard in a society looking to silence me? While attending school, teachers would place doubt in my confidence during IEP meetings by saying what I could not do. But my mom’s voice drowned out theirs. She kept saying, “Oh yes my daughter can and she will.”
One day, she will not be around for me. One day, my father won’t be around. Then what? What will happen to me? Will people seek to place me in an institution? Will my voice be silenced or confined to four walls closing in on me because I have a disability? This isn’t paranoia. This is my reality.
I know our current administration continues to chisel away at my rights and my healthcare. If it weren’t for amazing people like ADAPT, we’d all be living a Stephen King horror movie right now. This is no joke. What’s a girl like me to do?
My mother isn’t only my greatest advocate, she’s also my mom! Yes, at times people with physical disabilities blur the two. We take for granted the fact that our mothers guide us in the world. I’m a young woman. I’m learning every day. My mom helps me navigate sticky situations. There are times my mom points out people who can quickly take advantage of me. It’s happened to me on several occasions.
It is like when you are watching a horror movie! Guess which one? Yes! Stephen King one. You know the character shouldn’t open the door! You yell at the screen, “Don’t open the door!” Without my mom in my life, I’d be that horror character who opens the door!
I’m not naive. I realize that life is about handling and learning from good and bad experiences. But as I have a physical disability that for now requires me to need assistance that society at times feels I shouldn’t have, the idea of not having my parents around is terrifying.
They say it’s important to conquer your fears. I plan on doing that. Everyday, I am learning from my parents about life and its challenges. I’m preparing myself mentally and emotionally with my excursions in the outside world. I seek out people who have been in my circumstances to learn about my options. It’s not all doomsday. I realize that one day, I will be on my own without my parents.
Their strength and knowledge now will be ingrained in my mind for the rest of my life. I will take their words of wisdom, create my own movie in my head. It might be a horror film but I will be the character who survives!
Tylia Flores is a 23-year-old born with Cerebral Palsy. Although her condition has affected her mobility, it has never affected her will and determination to make a difference in the world. Through her many life challenges and obstacles, she discovered her passion for writing. Tylia’s goal in life is to share her stories with the world. In doing so, she hopes to help others with disabilities realize that they, too, have the potential to make their dreams come true.