Breaking Barriers

Photo of man in wheelchair with iPad assistive devices

by Seth Kanor

My father, the founder of Enabling Devices, often likes to say that he’s never been very good at business. Nor does he look much like a businessman.

When he began working with kids who had Cerebral Palsy this was an immediate advantage. Think about it: your muscles sometimes move in spasms independent of your mind’s intent; you might grimace when you mean to smile; you use crutches, or a wheelchair. Sometimes you make strange noises. Some people stare at you; some look away. And then into your life comes this eccentric man.

His hair sticks out to the side like Bozo’s and he is willing to play the clown for you. This is, after all, a man who once won third prize at a Halloween party without bothering to put on a costume. He’ll make silly jokes and silly faces and he’ll do anything he can to make you laugh. He doesn’t care how he looks and he doesn’t care how you look. What you cannot do, or think you cannot do, is not an obstacle in his world. If you have no fine motor control, he’ll give you a big colorful switch the size of a dinner plate. If all you can do is blink your eyes, he will make a eye blink switch for you. If all you can control is your breath, he will make you a sip and puff switch. Where others see disability, he sees possibility.

Whenever we encountered anyone in a wheelchair, or using a cane, or any other kind of assistive device, my father, looking every bit the mad scientist, would approach and ask the same question: “Is that working for you?” And he was so sweetly disarming, and so intent on helping, that I never saw anyone refuse him. Invariably, the assistive device wasn’t meeting that person’s needs. Invariably, my father had an idea for an adjustment, a modification, or an improvement.

But just as importantly, he was seeing through the disability to the human being; and it is in this spirit that I’d like to share an article that I came across while reading ‘Red Stick Moms Blog.’

It’s by an woman named Katie Corken. It’s called “What’s Wrong With Him.”
I think it’s a brilliant and profound piece.

Please click below.


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