MY EXPERIENCE OF BEING AN ADULT WITH A MILD INTELLECTUAL DISABILITY

Jane Fitzpatrick on the challenges of independent living (written with the support of Derek McNamara)

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My name is Jane Fitzpatrick, I am 33 years of age and I am adult with a mild intellectual disability. I am originally from the Foxrock area. These days, with the support of my Mum and Dad and family and some great staff that have been working with me over the last couple of years, I am living independently in Stillorgan. I am very thankful for all the help, support, encouragement and guidance they have given me to work in the community and also to progress into independent living. Before this change I wasn’t doing great at certain things in my life. I used to keep things to myself and never used to talk about the things that were bothering me, but with the various supports I receive from STEP & City Gate I am now going uphill instead of down.

Once I realised I was having problems, I organised appointments with the people I knew could help me to progress in the different areas that I needed to work on. I knew that things were getting out of hand, instead of getting sorted out. As a result of my making these changes I have really come on in the last year or two of my life, as I chose to work on certain goals that I set with my support staff.

A significant milestone that I have achieved in the last year is my goal of moving out of my family home into my own apartment. I am enjoying my new apartment a lot, as it’s very close to work and also very close to my family home, so I know I am never alone and can always see my family if I need to.

Now that I am older I have come to realise how my disability can affect me in a big way, as I go about my daily life. My disability would be considered very mild, but it still affects me in many different ways. I try to do as much as I can for myself as I am a trier and I try very hard, in all aspects of my life. I can do certain things really well, but then there are other things I may not be as good at as other people would be. It is at these times that I have to ask for a little help, but I find this very frustrating, upsetting and hard to do, because some people may look at me as if I am not the same as everybody else, but I am. I think no matter what disability a person may have—whether it be a mild, physical, intellectual, emotional, social, or any other disability—that everybody should be given equal opportunities in life whether they have to ask for help or not.

Nowadays there can be a lot of bullying in workplaces, colleges, homes, amongst friends, within families, or in any area of life that a person with a disability is engaged in. Being able to ask for help should be encouraged at all times by employers, colleagues, peers, friends, families, or by any person who may see this sort of thing happening. People can be horrible out there, no matter where they are, and people with disabilities should be encouraged to talk for themselves and to use their voices to overcome these situations, but at times we may need help to do this.

We people with disabilities can find it very frustrating, upsetting and difficult at times when we are not capable of doing things or tasks that may be asked of us. I think it is our responsibility though to get the message out there to people that at times they may need to try and understand us, not judge us.

Everything has gotten so much better in my own life since I asked for help. I have got to the stage of saying, what everyone else is good at, I too can be good at if I ask for help and this is my motto.

I am a person with a mild disability and I want to let people know what it’s like for me, so they can see how their attitude can affect my life. Support me and I will flourish, jeer me and I will shy away and be on my own.

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