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By: Diomayra F. Ramos
May 14, 2019

What is the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the word special? Do you instantly think of someone you love who is very special to you? Or, of someone who told you that you were very special? Upon hearing the word, we often relate it to love and admiration, sadly that isn’t always the case.

This past April, Netflix released “Special”; a TV show based on the life of the actor and writer Ryan O’Connell who has Cerebral Palsy.  Cerebral Palsy (CP) is a neurological disorder that is caused before, during or after birth, which can affect muscle movements, motor skills, and even speech.  Throughout the show, viewers can appreciate how much effort Ryan puts into concealing his disability to avoid being treated differently.  Denying his disability wasn’t intentional until he began noticing how accepting others were of his limp assuming it was the result of an accident rather than CP. It’s sad to think that the way a person maneuvers through life is more important than who he is as a person. What should matter is the type of person that he is on the inside. Having a special way of walking doesn’t take away from the awesome person that he is.

If you ask me, proving to others that you’re more than your disability can be pretty exhausting. Throughout the eight episodes of the series, Ryan tried endlessly to make others see that there was more to him than meets the eyes. Even though he walks differently, he had the same wants and needs as any gay individual. His sexual preference was never an issue, quite the opposite. So why be ashamed of your disability and not of your sexuality when both are part of the minority? The problem is that society has made disability such a taboo topic that it is easier to pretend you are not disabled, instead of having to work endlessly to show the world that you are more than your condition. That is what a disability is a condition, that’s it!

Sadly, society has put such a great emphasis for us to “fit in” that we end up doing everything to appear less different or in this case special. Since birth we were taught to behave and act a certain way to blend-in and not be considered an outcast. Instead of celebrating self-love and self-acceptance we’ve chosen to suppress that part of our lives. How can we learn to love ourselves just the way we are if we learned at a very young age that it’s wrong to be different? We cannot, it’s impossible.  We were taught to be closed-minded and to disregard anything that doesn’t make sense, rather than taking the time to get familiar with it. Don’t consider someone special just because they look or act differently; instead, take the time to really get to know them. By allowing yourself this opportunity you will see how special they are as individuals with unique qualities.

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