New England Disability Awareness Essay Contest Winners- Grade 4

First Place Essay

By: Kaitlyn D. from Maine

Mom's Not Normal, Just Extra Special

I am nine years old and my whole life has been affected by someone with disabilities. That someone is my mom. My mom has Epilepsy. When she has seizures, she falls down and her left arm shakes. During the seizures, my mom can’t talk and does not really know what is happening. It feels like a long time but it is only a few minutes before it stops. When my mom wakes up, she really can’t remember much. Having a seizure makes my mom very sore and tired.

My mom has not been able to work or drive for about seven years. This makes my family different from my friends’ families. Mom and I can’t go out alone and sometimes the seizures interrupt family time. We were lucky a few years ago and got a dog that can help my mom. Grainger is a seizure response dog. That means that she can sometimes detect my mom’s seizures and she can get help for her. So we are not a normal family.

There are many types of disabilities in the world. Some you can see, some you can’t. My mom’s disability is one that people don’t notice unless they see her have a seizure. When we are out in public, people don’t understand why we have a service dog. Many people stop and just ask to pet Grainger, some whisper about us and our dog or ask why we have her. The worst thing that has happened is when we have gone to a public place and they do not want to let us in because we have a service dog. They do not realize or care that my mom has a disability. It is pretty embarrassing and upsetting for my family and me. It is so sad that some people make a big deal out of this kind of thing.

Over the years I have learned how people should be treated. I know how uncomfortable it is when people stare at you. It is more polite if someone asks a question about my mom’s service dog instead of staring and whispering about us. I have seen how this affects my mom and it is not okay. We should treat each other equally and with respect. Some people just need extra help with things. There is nothing wrong with that, nobody is perfect. When I get older, I would like to help people by volunteering. I would like to help children of all ages with their different ways of doing things. People with disabilities are just like us and we are ALL different.

Katie donated her winning prize money to the Epilepsy Foundation.

Second Place Essay

By: Ella K. from Massachusetts

Always Being Happy

My sister Lily inspires me because I know that you do not have to be perfect, smart, or capable of everything to be a good friend. Lily is not capable of doing a lot of things, but that does not stop her from learning. A good message I have gotten from growing up with her is, “Never give up” I also learned to be patient with people.

Lily has a hard time learning how to walk and run properly. She is still working on speaking. She can say some words fairly well, but only a little bit. Lily also does a lot of signing with words like food, dog, cat, please, and thank you. She also has a hard time with reading and writing and fine motor skills. Mostly, she reads by pictures. She can identify a few letters and animals.

Lily also does horseback riding for therapy. Doing that has helped her learn how to use different muscles and has helped her with her fine motor skills. At the riding place she goes to, the teachers have Lily, “read books” and have her throw bean bags in hoops. Lily enjoys it very much!

A lot of people ask me‚ “Do you like having a sister with disabilities?” or‚ “What is it like having a disabled sister?” I always answer, “It has helped me in life, taught me to be a better friend, and let me experience what it is like in some other people’s worlds.” When my class went to Lily’s school, most of the kids did not know how to interact with the disabled kids. But then they learned and figured out that the disabled children did have a lot in common with themselves.

Since Lily has spent her whole life with me, I have learned to “understand” people like Lily. So when I go up to someone in school or on the playground and realize that they have a disability, I feel completely OK to walk up to them and ask them if they want to play or something. The last thing that inspires me is that Lily is always happy. Yes, her disability does get in the way of some things, but that does not stop her from always being happy!

Third Place Essay

By:Madison M. from New Hampshire

My Brother

Hi my name is Madison and I am 9 years old. When I was 5 I knew my brother was unique in a certain way. Then a few years later my parents had a talk with me. They told me he has a disability. Then a few months later we talked about it as a family and I was told he had Asperger’s. It was very strange knowing you have a brother with Asperger’s. But throughout the years I think I would rather have a brother with Asperger’s than without.

It is very challenging for my parents and I, but I know it helps when we work together as a family. Jack inspires me in many ways. He is very smart and he always offers to help me with homework. My brother is loyal and sticks up for me. He has 2 friends who do not judge him, and I like those 2 friends a lot. They are true friends.

He has gotten in trouble a lot and has his struggles, but mostly I notice his special qualities. All of my teachers that have had him always ask how he is doing, and that does not surprise me or my parents.

Normally when we are about to go somewhere we see him running around outside. When we are in the car he rocks back and forth. Now he does karate and I think that is good for him. He does not play soccer anymore. But he does karate and that is good and healthy for him. At least he does karate. A lot of kids don’t even do anything. He also does Rogue- Robotics Club. He always says he has lots of fun there.

I asked him some questions and here are his answers -

Is it hard having Asperger’s?

Yes because you get frustrated a lot and people don’t like you.

But when he answered that question I said you have friends and people like you the way you are.

Do you like having Asperger’s?

Yes.

If you could go back and not have Asperger’s would you?

No this is who I am I would not ever change it.

If I could go back and change it I would not either. I think Asperger’s is a challenge for my brother and kids all over the world. If I had Asperger’s I think it would be a challenge. We fight a lot, but we also play together a lot. He is always there for me when I need him. He stands up for me. But most of all, he loves me as I am and that is really what counts. If I need someone to help me do homework or read a word I know who to go to.

My brother is not a bully. He sticks out because he is so unique. Most kids stick out because they are a bully but not my brother. That is how my brother inspires me! I love my brother so much!!!!!