July is Disability Pride Month. WRAP is proud to support the focus on honoring each person’s uniqueness as a natural and beautiful part of human diversity, highlighting the contributions people with disabilities bring to the world, and raising awareness of the continued need for more accessibility, inclusion, and belonging.
WRAP offers books that support the above goals, such as WRAP for People with Developmental Distinctions,The Worry Control Workbook (anxiety), WRAP for Addictions, and Community Recovery (mental health support) The Wellness Recovery Action Plan and accompanying workbook also support these goals for people with any disability.
What is a disability? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defines it as “any condition of the body or mind (impairment) that makes it more difficult for the person with the condition to do certain activities (activity limitation) and interact with the world around them (participation restrictions).”
That covers a lot of ground and includes up to 15 percent of the world’s population, according to the World Health Organization. That’s nearly 1 billion people with some form of disability.
My daughter and I are both proud to be part of the disability community, and WRAP has been an incredible help in paving our futures.
My invisible disabilities are relatively easy to hide from most people—even myself! I wasn’t even aware I had what is classified as a mental disability until I was in my 30s.
In contrast, my daughter’s developmental differences can’t be hidden. Nor should they be.
Some of her disabilities make her life challenging. But they also make her a completely fascinating individual with a child-like perspective on the world that always challenges my way of thinking.
When I discovered WRAP, I created one for myself and then one with her. Because of her intellectual disabilities, I thought I knew what was best for her and what would make her feel well and happy. But in making a WRAP, I made myself stay quiet and let her lead the way.
Not shockingly, our ideas and visions were a thousand miles apart.
That’s when I realized I needed to stop trying to give her a “normal” life and allow her to define wellness for herself.
I needed to let her live the five key concepts of WRAP.
HOPE: She needed hope that even though her life doesn’t look like the lives of her friends from high school (e.g., education, careers, marriage, parenting), it can be magical and beautiful. We all have different goals, dreams, and values. Some are met, some aren’t. But hope is what keeps us going. We focused on her hopes and how to make them reality.
PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY: I needed to stop being the mediator in her life and “fixing” every challenge she encountered. She is choosing things she can (and wants to) take responsibility for, and it is increasing her confidence, abilities, and emotional well-being.
EDUCATION: My daughter’s brain functions at a child’s level, despite her being an adult. But so what? Instead of studying academic subjects, she is learning what helps her stay well and feeling good. This includes learning how to excel at video games, studying lines and songs for her role in Peter Pan Jr. this summer, learning the words to lots of girl power songs she can sing at the top of her lungs, and learning how to eat healthier so she doesn’t have as many trips to the doctor. She is growing!
SELF-ADVOCACY: I needed to step back and stop and doing everything for her. She is working on advocating for her needs with her residential staff and telling health professionals what she is feeling, rather than relying on me to do all the talking and planning for her future and health. When there is a crisis, I step in. But, with WRAP, she is gaining the courage to speak up for herself.
SUPPORT: Together we are increasing her support network beyond just me. She is learning how to maintain friendships and have conversations, asking caregivers for help rather than always turning to me, and participating in an autism support group and musical theater company for adults with disabilities to build a network of supporters. And we have a WRAP crisis plan for those times when she cannot take care of her own needs.
Her disabilities—and mine—are simply part of our life. As with everyone, our wellness our way is achievable. I thank WRAP for giving me a bigger perspective and a pathway to embracing our disabilities and a path toward greater wellness.
The July WRAP Up newsletter will feature the voices of some WRAPers in the disability community. If you are part of that community and would like to share your thoughts about how WRAP has helped support your life with a disability, send your ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org by July 21.