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what counts as a disability?

A disability as defined by Merriam-Webster dictionary is, “a physical, mental, cognitive, or developmental condition that impairs, interferes with, or limits a person’s ability engage in certain tasks or actions or participate in typical daily activities and interactions." Disabilities can include, but are not limited to, vision impairment, hearing impairment, physical disability, chronic illness, mental health disorder, learning disability, acquired brain injury, autism spectrum disorder, and/or intellectual disability.

After the launch of the Veterinary Students with Disabilities Facebook Support Group, many of my fellow beautiful vet med nerds were concerned that they were going to take up space that someone else might 𝘳𝘦𝘢𝘭𝘭𝘺 need. Several of you were worried that you didn’t belong in the group because you weren’t deaf or blind or in a wheelchair, because you didn’t think you were disabled 𝘦𝘯𝘰𝘶𝘨𝘩. But here’s the first thing you need to know: 𝐃𝐢𝐬𝐚𝐛𝐢𝐥𝐢𝐭𝐲 𝐢𝐬 𝐧𝐨𝐭 𝐚 𝐜𝐨𝐦𝐩𝐞𝐭𝐢𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧.

Disability comes in all shapes and sizes with varying degrees of severity. There are no rules placing your disability on a binary. In the same token, two people affected by the same disability may experience it in completely different ways. But whether you have a mild disability or severe disability does not determine if you are worthy of emotional support. Disability is all about how 𝘺𝘰𝘶 identify. It is about how you perceive your own life, and what you and your medical provider believe you need in order to succeed.

Unfortunately, we live in an imperfect world where in order to combat fraud, insurance companies and government agencies have turned something that is a rainbow of colors into a black and white list of “qualifications.” Your school can be a great resource for you to put accommodations in place to help you succeed in school; however, their guidance is often limited to just academics. I want to offer you a place to find validation and emotional support, where all your colors can be seen and appreciated without judgment a place of fellowship, where we help each other find tools for in and outside of the classroom. Check out some of the products that have helped me stay productive in vet school on my Amazon List!


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