Acceptance of Mental Disabilities


Nicole Long, Staff Writer; Section Editor

The mentally disabled are not commonly accepted in society, and many just simply desire to be understood. Mental disabilities are diagnoses of behavioral or mental patterns that cause suffering or limit different abilities to function. Colt Roundup has set aside some time to talk to a few people about the issue.

Lizzie Long-Smith is an 18 year old woman who grew up with Asperger’s Syndrome and Schizoaffective Disorder. For those who may not know, Schizophrenia is a disorder that fogs up the mind and affects one’s clear thinking. Asperger’s is a disability that limits and affects the mind in different ways. One example is having an overly-sensitive startle response to sudden or loud noises, and another is the quality of  working at a slower-than-average pace. Lizzie has told Colt Roundup, “My lack of focus and train of thought limit me on how I do tasks as well as how long it takes me to do them.”

One other person Colt Roundup interviewed was Lora Sorenson. Lora is the mother of a 27 year old man, JJ, who has been faced with many challenges throughout his life. JJ attended public schools up until his high school years, but on the far side of ease. JJ has had many diagnoses which, at the time, were hard to understand for his neighbors; they acted as though they could catch something from him. As Lora struggled to make people understand, some began to doubt JJ. On one of the cases, Lora told us, “Quite often we were told to just give up on him doing things like potty training, talking, taking turns, and accept that he was never going to do it.” Although the doubts were held high by others, Lora refused to give up on her son. Soon, Lora decided that the schools and teachers weren’t going to change, and found her own way to help school her son.

In July of 2012, Lizzie ran into Lora, who had developed her own government-funded school for students with disabilities. While Lizzie was in high school, most students would make fun of her differences, even the teachers wouldn’t accept and realize that she needed their help. Lizzie told Colt Roundup, “When I first met her [Lora], I was a little shy at first, but as I got to know her, I was no longer shy. I tend to warm up to people who have similar interests as me.” Through Lora’s school, Lizzie was finally understood by someone other than her parents and was able to learn without much struggle. Lora has been told to teach Lizzie by using the “show-and-tell” method. Many methods of teaching and learning had been adjusted to help the students understand – including Lizzie. Soon, Lizzie graduated and received her high school diploma at 16 years old. Many great things only come from trying.

The simple act of acceptance is what impacts lives for the better. Unfortunately, Lizzie went through a difficult process with rejections, but her life was turned around when she was accepted by a caring soul. JJ also had a life filled with tough events, but his differences make him who he is. All anyone can do is be who they are; differences are what makes up the actions of individuals. Everyone may be different, but that shouldn’t change how they are treated; everyone is equally special. Every life is important, some lives may just need a little more patience than others.

Our world, today, is so full of carelessness and arrogance that sometimes people forget how to treat others, especially the mentally disabled.