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People We Love: Emily Ladau

We love bloggers here at the Disability Visibility Project. We’re big fans of blogger/writer/advocate Emily Ladau!

Check out a few excerpts of an article originally published in the New York Times on May 16, 2014.

One Daughter, One Mother, Two Wheelchairs and Nothing Remarkable

Emily Ladau

While exchanging pleasantries with a woman selling peanut brittle at an open-air market on Mother’s Day, my mom and I were told that we’re really adorable.

We were contemplating the samples we had just tasted and deciding which one of us would pay for a bag of the brittle to take home. Nothing about that scenario sounds particularly adorable, right? Apparently, though, it’s quite charming to watch a mother and daughter engage in mundane discussion about sugary treats when they happen to be sitting side by side in power wheelchairs.

The simple act of going out in public with my mom ensures that we will get comments like this regularly. Part of me does understand why people are compelled to make a fuss over us. My mom and I are quite the pair. We look alike, sound alike and act alike. In fact, we have nearly everything in common right down to our physical disability, Larsen syndrome, which is genetic. As such, people seem to perceive us as a bit of a phenomenon.

Complete strangers often remark that my mother appears to be my sister. My mom loves this, along with the shock people express when they learn that I’m her 22-year-old daughter. But beneath their amazed comments on my mother’s youthful appearance, I often pick up on a hint of incredulousness about a disabled mother raising a disabled child.

At the same time, without even knowing our full story, many people claim to be inspired by the sight of my mother and me, It’s rather paradoxical: On the one hand, most of society is quick to doubt that someone with a disability has the capability to be a good parent; on the other, because people think she is “Mom of the Year” simply because I’ve made it to adulthood.

My mom is a great mom. She has never given her role in my life anything less than 100 percent. She has always taught me to make things work, even when our disabilities pose frustrating complications, which tends to be the case on a regular basis. That being said, our goal has never been to be a sob story or a success story.

Our goal is to live our lives. Some people find us precious and others find us pitiable, but neither mode of thinking is accurate, and both feel condescending. Our disabilities may make our interactions different.

For the rest of the article:

Emily Ladau

Words I Wheel By blog:


Twitter: @emily_ladau

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