Around 61 million people (one in four) in the U.S. live with a disability, reports the CDC, and around 6.8% of these have difficulty living independently and doing errands alone. Around 13.7%, meanwhile, have a mobility disability that makes it difficult to walk or climb stairs. The extent to which disability interferes with your daily tasks depends, to a great deal, on how complex the nature of your disabilities are. Even if you have complex needs, however, there is plenty you can do to enhance your sense of independence and to feel that you are in charge of important choices that affect your health, well-being and happiness.
Building A Network
Building friendships and a solid social network is key for adults wishing to increase their independence, since these friendships lead to information exchange on aspects such as financial or physical aid, transport, and treatments that can improve issues such as mobility. It is also important to join networks that provide resources on cerebral palsy and other disabilities requiring a high level of care. Through others, you can discover ‘innovative choices’ programs, which encourage you to recruit and manage your own support workers. Independence is greatly enhanced when you can choose the type of care you need, deal with people who share your lifestyle and beliefs, and above all, deal with those you authentically like and ‘click’ with.
Seeing The World Around You
If you are able to use public transportation on your own, try to do so and see the best of the natural and cultural world around you. In the U.S., the Law obliges all trains, subways and buses to be accessible, and there are elevators and other types of technology to help get you to these means of transport if you use a wheelchair. For ultimate comfort, relying on an Uber or similar vehicle-for-hire can help get you to the next party, gathering or event without the need to ask anyone to take you there.
One of the most liberating experiences for young adults is the feeling of receiving their first paycheck. There is no reason why people with disabilities cannot contribute to the world at large and make good money doing something they love. Start off by approaching organizations like The Centers for Independent Living (CIL), which provide a plethora of resources for people with disabilities who are keen to get into the workforce. Just a few areas they can help you out with include obtaining a special needs scholarship for college studies, job training, finding employment and obtaining referrals, and counseling and emotional support.
Not everyone with a disability is able to catch public transport or work, since if they have more than one complex need, they may need a higher level of care. Depending on your circumstances, you may be eligible for cerebral palsy cash assistance or a similar allowance. One of the requirements to receive this aid is that your family meets a specific income threshold. Another avenue to improve your cashflow is section 111.000 of the Social Security Disability Evaluation. Under this law, people with cerebral palsy, for instance, who have motor dysfunction can be eligible for social security benefits. Regardless of your specific disability, conducting research into available means of support is key to ensuring that you are obtaining no less than what you are entitled to. Even if you cannot work but you do have money coming in, this financial security will enable you to fill your day with a wider gamut of activities that enrich you and keep you motivated.
Obtaining Emotional Support Or Therapy
If you feel stuck in a rut or you feel you are being held back by a lack of clarity in your life path, psychological therapy can be a vital way to align you with a sense of purpose. Statistics show that in the U.S., one in four people experience mental health problems. People with disabilities can be more prone to anxiety or depression because the meticulous planning involved in the day-to-day running of their lives can make achieving goals harder. A lack of personal freedom can also be an issue for those who do not feel they are encouraged to be more independent. Some people can feel that their disability isolates them and makes living spontaneously more difficult. It is important to exercise self-compassion and to get help when you need it. Sometimes, just a couple of sessions with a psychologist, mentor or life coach will help you knock down negative mindsets or get you out a thinking pattern that is standing in the way of the achievement of your goals.
If you are one of the millions of Americans living with a disability, know that it is part and parcel of the human condition to yearn for more independence. Start off by arming yourself with information (which is power) and take advantage of any free resources available to you. Join networks, make friends and use public transport and other means of getting to social and professional gatherings. If you are anxious or depressed, then psychological support will help you recognize negative thought patterns and teach you how to replace them with more fruitful, purpose-filled beliefs.