The terms ‘disability’ and ‘handicap’ are used interchangeably and often refer to people with special needs.
In simple terms, disability is a lack of an ability to perform tasks. This lack of ability may be due to an inherent condition that prevents us from effectively engaging or executing a process. For tess, remaining in a classroom for long periods of time was extremely difficult as her system could not handle the sensory overload. This was a disability in terms of classroom functioning. However, tess was not handicapped by this. A supportive class teacher, ensured she had access to learning the skills she required by modifying the environment to adapt to her lack of ability.
What we came to realise is that our disability becomes a handicap when it ultimately causes suffering because of our inability to accept the situation as it is. When a friend had a surfing accident that paralysed him for life, he was bitter for several years, battling frustration and resentment. He found his calling in art and began to train as an art therapist. It was while undergoing the training that he truly faced his disability and saw all the thoughts that had prevented his potential from blossoming. He told us that the years he spent in depression were the real handicap. Once he accepted the situation, his mind stopped focussing on what he could not do. While he lamented the fact that he could not drive a car to the movies, he found his acceptance led him to avenues he never thought possible. He came across a company that designed vehicles for people with disability, and, before he knew it, he was driving and living independently, doing all chores by manoeuvring his wheelchair. He would often boast that he could beat anyone in an arm wrestling competition!
Life will constantly challenge us. There are times we will feel swamped by what we sense as our lack. If we can see that it is only our thoughts about a situation that are creating the handicap, we can live each moment to the best of our potential. our disabilities need not become our handicaps.

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