Holly shares her story

"My name is Holly, I'm 17 and I have cerebral palsy. I go to Henshaws Specialist College in Harrogate. In my spare time I like to watch TV. My favourite shows are Call the Midwife, The Big Bang Theory and Queer Eye. I also like to go on weekends away with my friends. I use an eye gaze computer to communicate. I have a wicked sense of humour!

One of the most frustrating things about being in a wheelchair is when people, who don’t know me, automatically assume that just because I’m in a wheelchair I have a learning disability. Just because I’m in a wheelchair doesn’t mean that I don’t know what you are talking about!

I would share a situation that I have been in where this has happened to me but there have been so many, it’s hard to pick just one! Take this for an example, when I go to appointments, some people do things like Makaton and thumbs up and they don’t think to ask what level of understanding I have.

I’ve had many conversations with my family about why we think this is. Is it because they see my wheelchair as a pram? Is it because they haven’t had experience with disabled people? Or is it because they just haven’t thought about it?

When people are talking to me like a child I think “go away” (to put it politely!). I feel frustrated and like I don’t have a voice.

I asked my parents what their views on it were and my mum said “I think you know the answer to that Hols, it makes my blood boil” and my dad said “You usually give me a “look” and we can laugh about it”.  My step mum Rachel said “I like to try and just put people straight in the most subtle way I can”.

In a perfect world, people wouldn’t make assumptions about disabled people and would get to know them individually. I feel like people see disability as a disadvantage but that’s not true. We are just people who just happen to be different but… DIFFERENT IS GOOD!!!

So next time you meet a disabled person, just treat them like you would treat any other person.”

Henshaws Specialist College in Harrogate is a transformational place. Through our personalised approach to education, learning and care we empower young people aged 16-25 living with a disability to progress and live life the way they want. Find out more on our College web pages.

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