Pain, sorrow, loss, all out suffering, all of the above – these are part of the disability experience. Before the Internet, we went to support groups at rehab centers and hospitals, and they’re still there, but enough can’t be said about the healing powers of the internet and the way it’s brought so many people together these past 18 years.
I must say, these past 18 years have been glorious for the disability community, and that’s about how long I’ve been using the Internet to communicate with people with disabilities online too. For me, it all began with an AOL account in 1994 and a visit to the “Disability” chat room. I met individuals here who knew exactly what I was going through. It almost made me want to cry.
Feeling such camaraderie with these people helped my whole spirit lift. I was 16 years old, newly paralyzed and oh-so depressed. They say finding someone who you can relate to if the best healing medicine, and they’re right. When I finally discovered the Internet is when I finally started to feel better.
Before “online” existed, I had no one commiserate with except an older woman with quadriplegia who lived on the other side of town. We really didn’t have much in common and she wasn’t able to truly help me in the way that I needed. But the people my age I found online with varying disabilities ranging from paralysis to cerebral palsy and amputees, they could help, and boy did they ever.
What’s really great too about developing online relationships with people with disabilities is finally meeting your n