TIJ Blog Post – James Gilliard: Acceptance


There are five stages of dealing with loss – in this case the potential loss of freedom because of a disability – Denial & Isolation, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance. Based on where you’re at in that process, statements from and perceptions by people are going to impact you in different ways. I’ve dealt with that myself, and want to talk about it from both sides.

When I was in college, there were a few professors that didn’t like me being in their classroom because of the ADA requirements that came with it. Even though that was a minority, the issues that did occur were pretty serious. In one case, I had to get the department chair and others involved to get the issues addressed.

Years after graduation, during a random Google search, I came across publicly available documents from a professor which disclosed my disability. To say the least, I hit the roof. Even though I had gotten to the point of being comfortable being out on my own and asking for help when I needed it on a private level, I still wasn’t comfortable with that being public. Five plus years later, you all know that that’s changed. Between these blog posts, a personal blog I started and more, it’s publicly out there. And I’m fine with that – now, and on my terms.

While the timeline for everyone is different, I can’t stress strongly enough the benefits of getting to that final stage. Yes, it’s a hard journey filled with pitfalls; but the payoff is well worth it. Just take a look through some of my previous blog posts if you want to see the benefits of getting to acceptance. Or take a look at the long list of athletes with disabilities (AWDs) that are out there – including those that are getting ready for the 2016 ParaOlympics in Rio.

And as a final point, while not everyone’s going to accept you and what you’re dealing with, you can’t let that derail you. There are always going to be a minority of jerks in the world. Ignore them, keep moving on, and get to where you need to be!