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ADA 30주년 기념 Writing Contest [2nd place]

KASEC’s ADA Awareness Writing Contest

2nd place: Joseph Ho (9th grade, Orange County School of the Arts)

Prompt: Define disability in your own words

Title: The Disability Within Me

            When people hear someone described as “disabled,” many will assume of a person who is completely hopeless. Based on my personal experience with 14 years of contending with mild Autism, living with a disability can be limiting at times, but it helps me realize that there are other people in the world like me. The Netflix film, The Speed Cubers, illustrates the challenges of professional Rubik’s Cube “speedcuber,” Max Park, as he contends with Autism. The film shows Max’s development in his young years, his family, and close friends who help to guide him. Even though an individual may be “disabled,” they can still make substantial accomplishments in life.

            Disability in Max opened up a whole new world for him. Max’s parents were devastated when they found out that their son had Autism, but Max became obsessed with the Rubik’s cube after his mom taught him how to solve it. After his parents brought Max to his first cubing competitions with the goal of improving Max’s social skills, they realized his true talent and ability of speed-cubing had helped catalyze new leaps of social development from him. His passion of speedcubing had shown him how to perform social actions such as the ability to point and how to follow social cues such as noticing and following the actions of people around him. Speedcubing has also allowed opportunities for Max to make close friendships with his competitors. Max’s disability has propelled him forward.

            Similar to Max, I was born with a disability. The Autism within me finds itself wanting to break loose. I sometimes find myself gravitating towards actions from impulse, rather than actions from thought. I find myself wondering why I have tears at some not-so-sad situations. I can feel an internal battle going on within. I am two people in one being; together, and apart. 

Living with only a slight disability has ousted me into the isolated undefined space between “disabled” and “not disabled.” Even though making many new friends has been somewhat challenging and frustrating due to my Autism and awkward social traits, nearly all of my friends would not realize that I had a disability. I have been blessed with the ability to analyse situations and make better choices than my first instinct may feel. As Max Park has used speedcubing to socially mature, I have used music to express my feelings. Music in my life has led me to become a more confident person. I sometimes wonder if I am “disabled” or not. Having only mild autism allows me to experience what it feels like to live as a “disabled” person, as well as a “normal” one.

Like Max Park, I have learned and evolved from life experiences to become the person I am today. Disabilities have empowered myself and Max alike to seek our passions. I have only lived 14 years with a disability, and I am looking forward to the lifetime ahead. Disability is a hurdle that teaches us that with grit and determination, anyone can accomplish great things.