When Disability “Bumps” into Normal

Oct 09, 2013
Tagged with: When Disability “Bumps” into Normal

I was traveling recently to Boise, ID for a US Paralympic Sports Clinic to teach some strength and conditioning to professionals.   There was a person in the airport who most likely had autism as well as some form of lower body impairment.  The periodic yelps and physical repetitive tics of the young girl were obviously unsettling to those around her.  Her family was unscathed by the behavior, but it was interesting to watch as those around her just got their “normal” bumped into a bit.  I think it begs the discussion of what is normal?  And why be bothered by it?  Maybe it is just the unusualness of it or the phenomenal way that each person is created so uniquely.  It’s almost as if as a society, people living with disability are going against the flow.  It is just more apparent for some people’s “unique” to be seen and shouldn’t we celebrate or even just see it as we see everyone else? 


 I have the privilege of teaching and the past two weeks, I have taught my first sessions of class for the Fall of 2013 semester for Lindenwood University.  I am always excited, anticipating the new class the material we are able to cover and awesome standard of excellence we get to venture into.  I always wonder what my students are really thinking.  Especially when I tell them that the class they are currently in is the most important class they will ever take.  Who doesn’t want to learn about Adapted Physical Education, Exercise for Specific Populations, or Motor Development?  I encourage them that at some point in their career, really no matter what they decide to do, they will have people with different ABILITIES “bump” into their normal.  Maybe they won’t be privileged to choose this as a career, or maybe they will choose it and be blessed everyday.  I want my students to be able to be “bumped into” and know that there is a new normal.  I want a future culture of people to not be bothered by the unique ABILITIES of all of those around them.  As our future fitness professionals and PE Teachers confront those with unique ABILITIES, let them embrace the NEW NORMAL and be able to program and adapt without the thought of their “normal” being bumped into.  After all, what is “normal” anyway, right?


Author: Heather Pennington

  • Elizabeth Vander Kamp

    Heather! Thank you for this blog. Yes, what is normal?