My name is Leonilde, I’m 26 years old and I am psychologist. I would like to share with you my story and make you understand how the family is important in overcoming trauma, as in the case of acquired deficiency.

When I was young I had an accident that fractured my right kneecap. The kneecap or patella is a small bone located in the knee and is central to functional movements in your legs (i.e., to bend and straighten your legs). There were several surgical attempts to reverse the damage which all unfortunately failed. Ultimately I had been diagnosed with an acquired disability: ancient patella fracture and this severely impacted movement.

Despite the initial shock, my family did not give up and tried to accommodate my needs as best they could. It wasn’t easy and I remember the prejudice experienced during my teenage years. I often overheard people’s comments when they saw me… “useless”, “legs-pies” and other hurtful verbal slurs. Nevertheless, my parents were still on my side, endured the pain with me, cried with me, and at the end of it all, helped to lift my head and continue towards my dream of becoming a doctor.

Today I got over the trauma, thank God. My family also helped me through this difficult time and never let me become fixed on the thoughts and feelings of guilt that society inculcated. I believed in my ability to own my situation and still accomplish my goals.

The scars of the trauma remain on my body but I need to confess that it is the psychological scars left by discrimination which is the most difficult to deal with. Few people these days seem to have or take the time to truly understand the challenges faced by people with disabilities… a true dearth of empathy. Very sad!

By sharing my story and further pursuing my career as a psychologist I intend to help and collaborate with families who may be in a similar situation. We need to confront stereotypes and all forms of discrimination so that we can find new ways of looking at people with disabilities. We need to be guided by empathy and understanding especially when one considers the impact of societal prejudice on the already restricted world of people living with a disability.

That’s right!

Before you discriminate ask yourself how you would like to be treated if you were in a similar situation.

A disabled person needs love, care, affection, and people who believe in human potential… exactly what I received from my family.

Leonilde Sando

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