Disability on YouTube: why it's so important to learn about different disabilities
The YouTube channel Special Books by Special Kids aims to normalise different disabilities 'under the pillars of honesty, respect, mindfulness, positivity and collaboration'.
1. 45-year-old Jeff who is diagnosed with cerebral palsy
"When you have a disability you don't know when you're going to get that shot. And you've gotta be ready."
Despite his charisma and kind heart, he hasn't yet been in a relationship. It is Jeff's dream to experience love one day. When Chris, asks him 'Do you fear that you may never have that feeling," he responds, "You know I fear a lot of things, but that's my number one fear."
There are four main types of cerebral palsy; the most common is 'spastic cerebral palsy, where the muscles are stiff and tight (especially when trying to move them quickly), making it difficult to move and reducing the range of movement that's possible.' This is what Jeff is diagnosed with. All in all, this heartwarming video puts things in perspective for those of us who sometimes complain about minor things, and it makes you realise that worrying about little things is a waste of time. The video has rightfully gained a lot of positive reactions, and some viewers have even offered to date Jeff.
2. 25-year-old Nick is diagnosed with Primordial Dwarfism
He stands at 35 inches tall, but his heart and personality are bigger than life. Primordial Dwarfism is a form of dwarfism in 'which a person's growth is delayed beginning in the earliest stages of development, or in the womb.'
Despite, the adversities he faces, Nick has an excellent sense of humour when Chris asks him: "If someone wants to be your friend, what should they say to you?" Nick cheerfully sings back "Hellooo. Smell my feet come to eat," then bursts into laughter.
Nick enjoys football, watching movies and 'flirting.' Yes, Nick loves to flirt up a storm with the ladies.
His bright and bubbly personality has charmed all the viewers, with one viewer commenting, "I swear he can cure depression."
3. Angela is diagnosed with Neurofibromatosis
Neurofibromatosis 'is a genetic condition that causes tumours to grow along with your nerves. The tumours are usually non-cancerous (benign) but may cause a range of symptoms. 'the condition causes Angela to have a nonsymmetrical face and prosthetic eye.
"The saying that sticks and bones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me, is a lie"
Angela talks about the bullying she has faced, as a consequence of her disability, relaying one particularly painful incident where some children at school drew a picture of a monster and handed it to her. The years of bullying took a toll on Angela, and she began to internalise all the hateful comments made about her appearance, which caused her to have suicidal thoughts and suffer from depression. This video is really insightful and discusses the issue of bullying in schools; are school's really doing enough to help young kids who are being bullied?
4. Fatima Perez is allergic to the sun
She is diagnosed with a rare disorder called Xeroderma Pigmentosum, which results in her body being unable to repair cells damaged by UVA and UVB rays. 'Xeroderma pigmentosum (XP) is a very rare skin disorder where a person is highly sensitive to sunlight, has premature skin ageing and is prone to developing skin cancers.'
"I'm singing all the time...listening to music and shaking my bum bum. "
Despite he condition, Fatima's optimism is inspiring. She tells Chris: "I'm still looking at the world outside my door with the most beautiful colours."Fatima uses a voice-activated program to read and send emails to chat with friends, as she has to be indoor for 24 hours a day, as exposure to the sun can be fatal, 'in extreme cases, even a glint of sunlight can cause malignant skin cancers.'
When Chris asks her "How do you stay so optimistic?" She replies, "I'm singing all the time. I'm dancing also...Going from the kitchen to my bedroom, listening to music and shaking my bum bum." Be ready to be inspired by her optimism and perseverance to live life as best she can, despite her limitations.
5. Henny is one of eight people in the world diagnosed with Dermatosparaxis Ehlers-Danlos syndrome
The condition makes her skin extremely fragile, so much so that it can bruise and cut upon moderate contact, however, Henny's courage and determination to see the positives in life, makes her an exceptional and inspirational young woman.
"I'm short. I have saggy skin. I have bruises. I have scars. But I believe I'm beautiful"
Her ability to see past her physical 'flaws' put things into perspective for those of us who do not have such conditions that impact our physical appearance; there is beauty to be found in everyone, and true beauty really does come from within, is the message of the video. Henny 'finds beauty in her scars because they symbolise what she has experienced.' When Chris asks her "Is there a line between staring and ignoring?" She eloquently responds: "I understand the first stare because we're all curious. But I think that extended stare, or that second look, you look back, that's the part that bothers me." This video is a fantastic tool to educate young people about her condition, so others who suffer from similar conditions do not have to suffer rude stares from adults, in day-to-day life.
Where can I found out more?
If you watched the videos, you might have already noticed, that all these amazing people are being interviewed by Chris, a Youtuber personality with over a million subscribers. Chris creates videos—on his channel called Special Books by Special Kids—and interviews people with a range of disabilities to educate us about them and reduce stigma and ignorance, so they can be treated with the compassion and respect that they deserve.