Psychology and disability

Published in the Springfield republican 2018

Carrie Writes

Psychology and Disabilities

Carrie Barrepski


In October, I was asked to speak to psychology classes at Springfield College about living with disabilities.  I have always enjoyed speaking in front of groups, sharing my life experiences.

I spoke to a group of students majoring in health sciences, occupational therapy and physical therapy.  I started off by talking about the history of disabilities, using the medical model where a disability was viewed as something to be fixed or hidden away in an institution in the 1960s and 1970s.  After I was born, my parents were told by a doctor that my disabilities were severe enough that I should be institutionalizedbecause I would ruin their lives.

I also touched on the stigma of living with a disability, where people treat you differently and only judge you by your disability instead of focusing on the person rather than their disability.  I also talked about the importance of being your own person being in charge of your own life and being independent.

I always like to share the story of how I learned to be my own self-advocate.  In high school, I had teachers and paraprofessionals making decisions and making accommodations for me, leaving me very sheltered.  When I went to college, I had to quickly learn how to arrange for my own note takers, talkingto teachers about accommodations and speaking up for myself.

One of the most valuable lessons is I have learned is the importance of being a self-advocate, while living my passion and purpose.

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