Today’s guest post comes from Joanne Grana, a St. Louis, Missouri children’s author. Her book, The Busy World of Bianca Bear, is a sweet tale of a little pink teddy bear and all her adventures. She is currently working on another book, Princess Penelope.
“I’ll never forget the first time I realized I was thought of as “severely disabled.” My mom and I had gone to a vocational rehabilitation office to inquire about getting assistance in purchasing an accessible van.. The counselor had not come in yet. I saw a file on the desk with my name on it. The words “severely disabled ” were written on it. I freaked out. I remember saying, “Mom, that’s not what I am is it?” “No, that’s just something they put down. It doesn’t mean anything,” my mom said. But I knew it did. It meant that society would always view me as different and make assumptions and judgments about what I’m capable of. It meant that I’d spend my life having to prove myself to others.
“I was born with Spastic Cerebral Palsy. I knew that meant that a part of my brain had not properly developed and that my muscles are tight making it difficult for me to move my arms and legs. And, that because I had not attained standing balance as a child, I used a power wheelchair. I knew all the facts, but until that day, in the vocational rehabilitation office, I never knew I was severely disabled. I remember thinking, “Okay, my limbs don’t work properly and I use a wheelchair, but on the inside I am just like everyone else. Why can’t people see that?”
I don’t want to take away from Joanne’s blog itself, so you can read the rest of this post here.
Joanne was the first severely disabled student to receive a Masters Degree from George Warren Brown School of Social Work at Washington University in St. Louis. Unable to find a job in that field, Joanne created a teaching position for herself at St. Community College Meramec. She was a part time faculty instructor for Meramec’s Continuing Education Department. Joanne began writing Bianca stories for a preschool teacher to read to her students.