Recently, my depression has gotten much worse. As a child, I didn’t understand that Cerebral Palsy would affect my adult life. I assumed that once I was an adult, I’d eventually work full-time, get married and perhaps have children. I wasn’t going to let Cerebral Palsy hold me back from anything. I wish I knew just how much Cerebral Palsy would affect my adulthood.
I’d had high hopes for myself since childhood. I wanted to go to college by the time I was in elementary school. Little did I know that it is challenging for people like me to find employment.
I started looking for a job in November of 2019. I wanted to make money and save up for my own place. I naively believed that I would have no trouble finding a job. Growing up, I was told that workplace discrimination is illegal. I soon realized employers were unwilling to hire me because of my disability.
I still don’t have a job almost three years later. I was unable to obtain work at a grocery or a fast food restaurant. It is hard for me to see teenagers working part-time. I should be able to find work, and it is frustrating that I can’t.
It’s difficult to see myself as a productive member of society. I don’t have a job, although many of my peers do. I receive disability benefits. Disability benefits are not a livable income for anyone. Do you think you could live off $871 a month? People who get government assistance are looked down upon by society.
I also rely on Medicaid, so I can’t make too much money. My home care would cost more than $50,000 a year if Medicaid didn’t cover it. I couldn’t afford to pay for my care out of pocket. I have no choice but to stay within these programs’ income and resource limits.
In addition, workplaces aren’t obligated to allow personal care assistants as a reasonable accommodation. Without a PCA, I couldn’t take a shower or go to work. Working full-time would be impossible without Medicaid. I couldn’t work full time without using the bathroom. I don’t understand why people like me are denied support that would allow us to work.
Cerebral Palsy leaves me questioning my worth daily. I wonder if I have something to offer the world. Disabled children shouldn’t have to face the reality that if they work hard in school their whole lives, they might still end up unemployed. Because although society would like you to think otherwise, those same children grow up.
It was heartbreaking for me to realize that the unemployment rate for disabled Americans is triple that of our non-disabled counterparts, that we are allowed to get paid sub-minimum wages, and that many of us still can’t marry. Where is the equality in that?
Roberts, Lily, et al. “Removing Obstacles for Disabled Workers Would Strengthen the U.S. Labor Market.” Center for American Progress, Center for American Progress, 23 May 2022, https://www.americanprogress.org/article/removing-obstacles-for-disabled-workers-would-strengthen-the-u-s-labor-market/.
Selyukh, Alina. “Workers with Disabilities Can Earn JUST $3.34 an HOUR. Agency Says Law Needs Change.” NPR, NPR, 17 Sept. 2020, http://www.npr.org/2020/09/17/912840482/u-s-agency-urges-end-to-below-minimum-wage-for-workers-with-disabilities.
Star, Eryn. “Marriage Equality Is Still Not a Reality: Disabled People and the Right to Marry.” Advocacy Monitor, National Council on Independent Living, 14 Nov. 2019, advocacymonitor.com/marriage-equality-is-still-not-a-reality-disabled-people-and-the-right-to-marry/.