17
Mar
10

Advice for those with disabilities


From Dr. Bob Segalman’s book “Against the Current”

This is the first of a new series of  excerpts from  Dr. Bob Segalman’s book Against the Current.  Dr. Bob is most notably known for establishing STS (Speech to Speech) communication, which helps those with difficult to understand speech.  Dr. Bob has given SpeakNStomp permission to use excerpts from his book.

Chapter 10

When I was a young person, I knew no adults with CP to whom I could turn for advice.  Thus, I want to write a chapter of advice that might be useful to young people with CP now.

Another reason for choosing to devote a chapter to giving advice is that, as a man, I cannot resist giving it. It’s probably in my genes. Thus, my last chapter focuses on advice. If I were to advise a young adult with CP on the most important things to achieve in order to live a happy and productive life, here’s what I would say:

1. Get as much education as possible. You may be forced to accept a job for which you are educationally over qualified. In addition, your disability may necessitate expenses that able-bodied people do not have. Increased education generally yields increased income to meet such expenses.

2. Choose an occupation that provides these things:

a. Good job security. You have enough to handle without worrying about lay-offs.

b. Adequate health insurance.

c. Good long-term care insurance. CP increases the likelihood that you will need care from others

as you age.

d. An opportunity to maximize a 401k or a good retirement. Similarly, CP can interact with aging problems that will force you into early retirement. I retired at the age of 61 when I no longer had the energy to work a full day. (Now that I am retired, friends tease me for working a longer day than I did for the State of California. The difference is that now I only do work that I truly love and I have no commute to tire me.)

Another reason for choosing to devote a chapter to giving advice is that, as a man, I cannot resist giving it. It’s probably in my genes. Thus, my last chapter focuses on advice. If I were to advise a young adult with CP on the most important things to achieve in order to live a happy and productive life, here’s what I would say:

1. Get as much education as possible. You may be forced to accept a job for which you are educationally over qualified. In addition, your disability may necessitate expenses that able-bodied people do not have. Increased education generally yields increased income to meet such expenses.

2. Choose an occupation that provides these things:a. Good job security. You have enough to handle without worrying about lay-offs.

b. Adequate health insurance.

c. Good long-term care insurance. CP increases the likelihood that you will need care from others as you age.

d. An opportunity to maximize a 401k or a good retirement. Similarly, CP can interact with aging problems that will force you into early retirement. I retired at the age of 61 when I no longer had the energy to work a full day. (Now that I am retired, friends tease me for working a longer day than I did for the State of California. The difference is that now I only do work that I truly love and I have no commute to tire me.)

e. An opportunity to maximize the use of your skills and abilities while minimizing the potential of your disability to interfere with your job performance. As an example, I was very successful in my work as a researcher, as that work maximized the use of my Ph.D. training and minimized my need to speak on the job. I was less successful as a social worker, since the work did not use my advanced training and was compromised by limited speech.

3. Settle in a mild climate. Don’t make life more complicated with the problems of extremes in climate. Be comfortable. My Ph.D. program was made much more difficult due to the cold winter climate. I completed my Ph.D. at the University of Wisconsin and had more trouble with the climate than with the curriculum.

4. Get an even-tempered, undemanding pet. Pets can be good friends, very comforting, and usually do not require you

to talk.

5. Make good use of computers and assistive technology. It is well worth the effort to learn to use them well.

6. Be as independent as possible.

7. Find ways to cope with how others react to your disability. You may need a qualified mental health professional

to help you.

8. Find a sexual outlet if you want one. God designed us as sexual beings. Living without sex can be very stressful. Many able-bodied people view people with disabilities as asexual; thus, many of us are raised as if we will not be expected to be sexual beings. If we want to have healthy sex lives, we must compensate for that lack of education and acquire healthy sexual perspectives. Some mental health professionals may assist us in developing a healthy sexual perspective.

9. Marry with caution. Be aware that your disability can bring to the surface psychological needs and behaviors in you or your spouse that can lead to destructive and/or codependent relationships.

10. Exercise and find forms of stress release.

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