"Whenever people stare or point (or even whisper to each other), it makes me feel as though I am invisible. This is when I want to shout and say: 'Hey!! I'm here!! I'm a person!! I'm not invisible; please don't ignore me!' "
~Girl, 10, spina bifida.
"I have lived with this monster called Duchenne muscular dystrophy ever since I can remember. It has gotten to the point to where I need an electric wheelchair for mobility purposes and a ventilator in order to breathe because my breathing and heart have gotten weaker. What I don't like most about my disability is having everyone wait on me hand and foot when I used to be able to do a lot of things for myself. Now that I can't, I feel as if I have become a burden to my family, and it really bugs the heck out of me! I wish I could go back to that little boy who could walk or do things for himself without asking others for help! I'm just glad I have my family, who don't mind doing things for me; I know they love me right back and would do anything to help me function."
~Johnathon, aged 18, Duchenne muscular dystrophy.
"I have Treacher-Collins. My face is grotesquely deformed, even though I have had numerous surgeries to try to 'improve my looks'; in addition to that, I also breathe with a tube in my throat and am hard of hearing [I wear hearing aids and communicate via ASL.] The worst thing is when kids and even adults stare at me as if I am a freak of nature, and it makes me very sad."
~Emma, aged 13, Treacher-Collins syndrome.
"I was born with one hand. It's all I've ever known. Yet people always make a big deal out of it, and I just want to smack the poop out of them! I'm a person too, just like they are! Give me a break!"
~Anton, aged 12, born with one hand.
"I have juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, or JRA. Diagnosed at aged five, though I had it a year earlier. I walk with two canes (sometimes crutches) and wear braces on my legs. I hurt all the time; some days are much worse than others, but I have to keep going, you know? I can't let a little thing like pain stop me from achieving my goals in life. Anyway, the worst thing about it is the pain, first of all, but also the stares or comments, or people assuming that just because I am disabled, I am not cut out to be a singer. I want to be a country singer; that is my goal in life. I love performing in front of people and making them smile with my music. Just because I happen to have a disability should not matter, but it seems to do so."
~Ronee' Le-Anne, aged 18, juvenile rheumatoid arthritis.
"What bugs me? When kids ask me what's wrong with me and the parents go ballistic, as if the kids committed a mortal sin. If the kid wants to know what's wrong with me, then they should be able to be free to do so! And the parents need to get a life; how is the kid gonna learn about disabilities if nobody tells them??"
~Tina, aged 11, cerebral palsy.
"I hate it when people make fun of me. It makes me feel sad and I want to cry."
~Lisette, aged 10, Down's syndrome.
"I think all schools or places of business should offer a 'disability awareness' course: let people who are not disabled live in our shoes, even if only for one day. It would change their way of thinking about dealing with the disabled. People have no clue how to handle people like us. They want to hide from us or shut us off from the rest of the world, even in today's day and age. I think that's sad. Very sad."
~Ryan, 15, spina bifida.
"I hate it when people call me retarded when I am anything but! Just because my body doesn't work right doesn't mean my brain doesn't as well! I happen to be very smart; I just hate having to prove myself over and over again to others!"
~Cara, 16, spinal injuries, paraplegic.
"I hate the laughing eyes and the snickers and the stares. Even though people don't say a word, their faces or body language says plenty!"
~Diana, 16, brain damage from spinal meningitis.