Hi I'm Amy, a thirty-something licensed clinical social worker with spastic quadriplegia cerebral palsy, a condition caused by trauma to the brain, usually during or shortly after birth. All four of my limbs are affected by this condition, and because of high muscle tone (muscles that are constantly tight and contracted), I struggle to move and control the muscles in my arms and legs. As a result, my limbs are often stiff, and they don’t always do what I want them to do. I can walk with a walker, but I utilize a power chair and a service dog for independence and mobility in my daily life.
At the age of 13, I was going in for yet another routine surgery when I had an encounter with the social worker that changed my life. She approached me and asked if I needed to talk to her regarding my upcoming surgery. I politely told her no, and stated that I had been through this before. Then she told me that I could talk to her because she knew what it was like to be me. This woman appeared to have no visible signs of disability, and I can remember thinking to myself, no one knows what it's like to be me.
After that encounter, I knew what I wanted to do. I wanted to help other individuals with disabilities and their families who might experience some of the same things that I experienced. I wanted to be able to use my experiences to help them, not because I knew what it was like to be them, but because I knew what it was like to be me as a person with a disability.
When I graduated with honors in May 2006 with my Master’s degree in social work. I had hoped that if I became a social worker, I could help people overcome their obstacles and they could, in turn, teach me something new and help me become a better social worker.
While some of my experiences as a social worker helped me accomplish this goal, the truth of the matter is, I have had so many struggles in my journey of trying to help others. As a result, I have yet to find a permanent place in my field. So while I try to find my niche, I am hoping to use my experiences to help others in a different way.