Five Steps to Independence

Jan 30, 2013
Tagged with: Five Steps to Independence

 Don’t be afraid to dream


1.  If you can’t dream it, you can’t do it

I know this seems harsh, but I have found this to be true with myself and through mentoring others with disabilities.  If one is not open-minded enough to envision themselves accomplishing their dreams they are not going to be able to begin to make them a reality.


2.     Be Realistic

Start off by examining your strengths and weaknesses. Next take your dreams and your strengths and weaknesses and merge them. For instance, I knew I could go to college because my mind is one of my strengths. So the next question was where to go to college. I started off wanting to go to University of Alabama, but after an aide left in the middle night because her dog became ill, I as forced to realize that I would have been left cold and dry. It became more realistic to go to a more local university, where my family support is closer.  This step can be one of the most emotionally painful but must be considered because it can determine whether your dream becomes a reality or not, or how to modify it appropriately.


  3.  Be Creative

This step is closely related to Step 2.  While all dreams may not be possible, most can be modified.  This step takes creative thinking and out-of-the-box.  After taking a self-assessment in Step 2, Step 3 comes into play in how to adapt those realistic dreams.  I would say that most dreams can be accomplished, just maybe not in the traditional sense.


   4.   Get Inspired

I have come across with a lot of people with disabilities who say, “I can’t do it because I have a disability”. Rather than using their disability as a scapegoat, I tell them to go out into the community and talk to others with disabilities.  Whenever I don’t believe in myself or am having a down day, I like to go to Lakeshore to be motivated by all the accomplished people there who have disabilities that they’ve overcome. Having a disability is a lot of trial and error. While in the community, talk about your dreams and see if anyone else has ideas or if they have overcome similar situations.


  5.  Believe in Yourself

For me personally, this is the hardest step of them all that I wrestle with regularly.  You are your strongest advocate and believe in yourself the most.  No one else can envision a future for you if you don’t.  This Step is difficult, but is one of the most important.  Many days I feel lost and can’t envision a bright future, but I have to remember that believing in myself is the only way to move forward.  I can’t necessarily give advice on how to believe in yourself; you just have to close your eyes and envision where and what you would be doing in a perfect world with no limitations and believe you can do it. Also don’t listen to other people’s negative opinions.  Only you know yourself the best and what you’re capable of doing.


Here are a few website links to organization that focus on independence for people with disabilities.



Full Life Ahead Foundation-

Alabama Department of Rehabilitation Services (each state has these services)-

National Rehabilitation Information Center-

Disabled World-

Disability Rights and Resources-


Author: Demi Eckhoff