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Physical Limitation & Attitude

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    “The only disability in life is a bad attitude” (Academy of Achievement). Inducted to the Olympic Hall of Fame in 1996, professional figure skater Scott Hamilton suffered a mysterious illness at the age of two that prevented him from growing. For the next six years, his adoptive family and himself were in and out of hospitals where he was misdiagnosed multiple times as to why he was not growing normally like other children. The reason behind his lack of growth was never determined and he was never diagnosed with a specific illness.

    When Hamilton was nine years old, he watched his sister figure skate and decided to try skating himself. Immediately Hamilton skated with natural confidence and speed. Soon after Hamilton began figure skating, he started growing again, and although he ended up always being smaller than his fellow male peers, he never let his disability or differences get in the way of his confidence and passion for figure skating. Scott Hamilton received much criticism for his size, for at five feet and three inches, it was not tall enough to make a decent career in the professional figure skating world.

    Hamilton defied the odds and ended up winning multiple national and international competitions for the next four years and won the gold medal in the 1984 Winter Olympics in Sarajevo (Academy of Achievement). People like Scott Hamilton who would be considered different or disable by modern society, are usually people who become the world’s most inspirational and motivational figures, because of his or her self-determination, and self-belief that a disabled person can achieve any goal a non-disabled person can achieve with perseverance, faith, and optimism.

    Having a “disability” does not necessarily mean that the individual with the disability will have a lower quality of life or with suffer from low self-esteem or confidence. Usually when a person falls victim of being different and suffers from a disability, he or she becomes one of the most unique and optimistic people on earth. Consider motivational speaker and preacher Nick Vujicic, who was born with no arms or legs. The illness Nick Vujicic suffered from is call Tetre-amelia syndrome, a rare disorder where all four limbs are missing (Horn).

    When Vujicic was first born, his parents were stunned to find out that they had given birth a limbless child. Dushka Vujicic, Nick Vujicic’s mother, had difficulty accepting her son’s abnormality, and it took her four months to finally be able to hold and carry her limbless baby. Vujicic’s father, who is a preacher, left the delivery room after Vujicic was born in order to vomit. Vujicic’s father believed God was punishing him by having his wife give birth to a limbless boy.

    The reason behind this belief is unknown, for the Vujicics opened up a church a month prior to Nick Vujicic’s birth, therefore they thought they were doing their duty as God’s humble servants. As this disabled child grew into adolescence, Vujicic questioned why he was the one who was born differently and why he had to fall victim to being a limbless person. Vujicic also suffered from bullying and low self-esteem as a child, which is very common amongst most handicapped or disabled children.

    Vujicic became so depressed to the point where he tried committing suicide at the age of 10 by drowning himself in a tub full of water, but fortunately failed at the attempt due to the love he has for his parents. After that incident, Nick Vujicic discovered his faith in Jesus Christ who transformed the way he perceived himself and the value of life. Nick Vujicic devoted himself fully to God when he was fifteen years of age.

    In the beginning, Nick was a depressed, lonely young boy who believed he did not fit in society and after he realized the value of his life, he developed the belief that he was born limbless on purpose through the grace of God, believing that God made him different in order to use Vujicic to influence and move the hearts of millions of people. Nick Vujicic eventually grew so spiritual that he began preaching the Bible and moved on to become a motivational and inspirational speaker at the age of seventeen (Horn).

    Today, Nick Vujicic has a double bachelor’s degree in accounting and financial planning, is president of a non-profit organization, and has created the motivational speaking company of Attitude is Altitude. Nick Vujicic is simply another human being, born different than regular people, who turned his “disability” into an ability to move and influence a mass group of people to discover themselves and live a more positive and spiritual life.

    His optimism and faith provides insight as to how disabled people develop a higher self-esteem, optimism, and inspiration in life and sometime even have a higher sense of well-being than regular non-disabled people by accepting one’s disability and part of who they are. A research conducted by Dr. Ilana Duvdevany from the University of Haifa in Haifa, Israel, studied the self-esteem and perception of the quality of life among Israeli women with and without physical disabilities.

    Dr. Dubdevany defined self-esteem as one’s perception of worthiness, including self-respect, and the appropriate self-analysis of one’s self-concept and defined quality of life as a person’s interpretation of their status in life involving their culture and social values, and that person’s value towards personal goals, expectations, worries and expectations (Duvdevany, 444). Dr.

    Dubdevany’s study, along with other studies, concluded that women who are born with a physical disability or obtain one later in life usually develop and higher self-esteem, but also stated that disabilities, self-esteem and perception of quality of life do not correspond with each other directly (Duvdevany, 445). This data presented reveals the scientific research and information needed to support that people, such as the Israeli women, who have disabilities do not lack self-esteem or perception of quality of life, but rather have an equal outlook on life and sometimes even have a better perception in the quality of life.

    Reason behind this data expresses that the disabled Israeli women with disabilities learned to accept their difference at a young age or early on when she obtain the disability, thus continued life normally with a normal and positive prospective. Another prospective study titled the “Self-efficacy and goal importance in the prediction of physical disability in people following hospitalization” conducted by multiple university professors, Dr. Sheina Orbell, Dr. Marie Johnston, Dr. David Rowley, Dr. Peter Davey, and Dr. Arthur Espley studied how self-efficacy developed for someone with a chronic illness disability after being hospitalized.

    This study hypothesized that depending on the severity of the disability of the individual, that individual’s determination and belief in his or her self-efficacy would set the foundation of goal importance, which the main goal was to recovery fully. During this evaluation, the professors described that self-efficacy is determined by an individuals self-belief about his or her confidence in obtaining behavioral goals and the ultimate goal of re-obtaining the ability to perform everyday tasks and return to everyday living.

    To achieve these goals and the ultimate goal, the source of motivation is not only obtained through that individual’s determination and belief in their self-efficacy, but also on the importance of the goal itself for that individual (Davey, P. , Espley, A. , Johnston, M. , Orbell, S. , Rowley, D. , 25). The recovery process for everyday living is not only dependent upon self-determination and belief in an individual’s abilities, but also on the belief or diminishing the disability that individual is suffering from.

    Thus the factors behind the determination of an individual with a chronic illness disability, according to the study, is to become fully recovered and to reduce the disability itself to its lowest influential amount in everyday living (Davey, P. , Espley, A. , Johnston, M. , Orbell, S. , Rowley, D. , 27-28). After the study was examined and reviewed, the university professors hypothesized that with the concluding data provided, an individual’s determination and belief in his or her self-efficacy to recover fully from a disability and the importance of that goal is determined by the severity of that individual’s disability (Davey, P. Espley, A. , Johnston, M. , Orbell, S. , Rowley, D. , 38). In a sense, this promotes that the more severe the disability, the more likely that person will have a stronger will power. An international study conducted along the same foundation as the previous study involved intellectually disabled people from multiple nationalities. The nations included in the study were Canada, the United States, Belgium, and France. This research was conducted by multiple university professors: Y. Lachapelle from the University of Quebec at Trois-Rivieres in Canada, M. L.

    Wehmeyer from the University of Kansas in the United States, M. C. Haelewyck from the University of Mons-Hainaut in Belgium, Y. Courbois from the University of Lille in France, K. D. Keith from San Diego State University in the United States, R. Schalock from Schalock and Associates in the United States, M. A. Verdugo from the University of Salamanca in Spain, and P. N. Walsh from the University College of Dublin in Ireland. The purpose of the study was to distinguish the connection between self-determination and the quality of life with people who suffer from intellectual disabilities.

    R. Schalock from Schalock and Associates in the United States suggested the there are eight core domains that make up the quality of life. His eight cores are: emotional well-being, personal development, interpersonal relations, physical well-being, material well-being, self-determination, social inclusion, and rights. In order to determine the quality of life of the participants in this study, they were given the Quality of Life Questionnaire that consists of a rating scale.

    This rating scale consists of forty items used to determine the quality of life of a person with an intellectual disability. Each item on the questionnaire falls under one of four sub-scales that include competence/productivity, empowerment/independence, social belonging, and satisfaction. The adult version of The Arc’s Self-Determination Scale in English and in French was used to measure the self-determination of the participants that suffered from an intellectual disability. This test is divided up into four sections.

    The first section measures the participant’s autonomy. This is the person’s sense of independence and the intensity behind the motives as to the way he or she acts due to their personal beliefs, values, interests and abilities (Lachapelle Y, Wehmeyer M, Walsh P, et al. 741). The second section of The Arc’s Self-Determination Scale involves the measurement of self-regulation. This self-regulation is divided into two sub-domains of personal rational problem solving, and goal importance and task presentation.

    The third section of the test analyzes the psychological sense of empowerment. The fourth and last section reveals a participant’s measurement of self-acknowledgement. (Lachapelle Y, Wehmeyer M, Walsh P, et al. 742). The concluding data revealed that the characteristics behind one’s self-determination behavior and the results given by The Arc’s Self-Determination Scale would most likely predict the results of Quality of Life Questionnaire and the perceived quality of life by the intellectually disabled participants (Lachapelle Y, Wehmeyer M, Walsh P, et al. 43). Therefore, this study expresses that a disabled person’s perception of their quality of life, in other words their attitude towards their life, is highly associated with that individual’s self-determination in their behavior and actions. “It is this challenge, albeit a disheartening one, that links all the papers in this issue: that is, what must be done to ensure that people with severe disabilities have both the opportunity and sense of empowerment to pursue and achieve valued wishes and interests” (Agran and Hughes, 106).

    The quote stated by Professor Martin Agran in the Department of Special Education at the University of Wyoming and Professor Carolyn Hughes from Vanderbilt University comes from their special issue that revisits the examination of self-determination of people with sever disabilities. In their study, they ask the question of how far has society come in promoting self-determination amongst the disabled community. Agran and Hughes original issue was conducted in the spring of 1998 and questioned if self-determination for disabled individuals is going to promote changes in the disabled system.

    Change did occur. The federal legislation in charge of disabled (special) education and rehabilitation created a mandate that the aspect of self-determination, as a development and result, be included in any and every disabled person’s daily activities if they are receiving treatment, care, and/or an education. Eight years later, Agran and Hughes’ special issue that reevaluation self-determination for disabled individuals expresses that practitioners understand they a liable in showing disabled students skills for self-determination, but are unconfident in their teaching of the skills.

    Scholars in the study express how the focus on how severely disabled individuals “can” and “do” self-determination needs to changed and refocused of how severely disabled individuals can achieve their own self-determination, but very few disabled individuals are actually learning how to become self-determined. (Agran and Hughes 106). Therefore, the quote stated at the beginning of the paragraph, reemphasizes the need for people with severe disabilities to have the opportunity to become self-empowered and determined in order to achieve and obtain set goals he or she has laid of for him or her-self.

    Society is then responsible that severely disabled people are granted equal chances to become self-determined (Agran and Hughes, 107). These statements reveal that the severely disabled are capable of achieving self-determination, but have better chances of retaining it through the support of society and by partnering up with non-disabled individuals in order to guarantee obtaining a voice in deciding his or her lifestyle and choices.

    In conclusion, Professor Martin Agran in the Department of Special Education at the University of Wyoming and Professor Carolyn Hughes from Vanderbilt University establish that “self-determination allows individuals with the most severe disabilities to earn the respect of society and live a quality of life that they long were denied, and it is imperative that we [society] support them so their personal visions can be realized”.

    Although it may be part of societies responsibility to encourage disabled individuals, whether they are disabled physically or mentally, to obtain self-efficacy, self-determination, and a high self-esteem, the disabled individual themselves has the power and ability to contribute to all, if not a majority, of their ability to achieve a high self-esteem, self-efficacy, and self-determination. It can be achieved through that individual’s attitude on their situation and outlook on life.

    The best way for a disabled individual to believe in himself or herself is by taking the advice of older and wiser disabled people who embraced their disability and uniqueness, such as Larry and Veronica from a textbook chapter written by Maureen E. Angell, Julia B. Stoner, and Barbara M. Fulk. Larry and Veronica both suffer from spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy, which is where an individual in incapable of controlling all four limbs and suffers from severe motor dysfunction. Sometime this illness even affects the head and neck.

    This disease did not stop Larry from pursuing his desire to sky dive. Because of his strong sense of self-determination, Larry, along with the encouragement of his support group, proved those who believe he could not do it that they were wrong. Larry did his research and eventually found a skydiving instructor to skydive with him. He achieved his goal. Veronica attended a special needs school and was ready to obtain her license. All the other disabled students were capable of obtaining theirs because their disability was not as severe as Veronica’s.

    Veronica was extremely upset that her teacher would not give her chance to prove that she was capable of driving a vehicle, until one day she was finally given the chance. Prior to that chance, Veronica practiced with another teacher around the parking lot so that when the time came to prove to her own teacher, Veronica was ready. Her self-determination and perseverance to obtain her desired goal determined that no matter the disability, it is one’s will power, attitude, and self-determination that will help them to reach that goal (Angell, M. , Stoner, J. and Fulk, B. , 64). It is people like Scott Hamilton, Nick Vujicic, Larry and Veronica that make having a disability or being different something good, and not something to be depressed or mournful over. For a disabled individual to achieve a better sense of self-worth and self-determination, it all depends on their attitude and belief in themselves. Although society and the environment of a disabled individual plays a major factor in that individual’s outlook on themselves and on life, it does not define that person’s attitude or self-worth.

    Therefore, disabled individuals are more than capable of obtaining and more positive, humble, and optimistic attitude and outlook on life than nondisabled people, because disabled people understand what it means to be different and what it means to be restricted. By following in the footsteps of Scott Hamilton, Nick Vujicic, Larry and Veronica, a disabled person’s possibilities in life are limitless. It all is determined by their attitude.

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    Physical Limitation & Attitude. (2017, Jan 31). Retrieved from

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