‘If I could give a message to children who have disabilities who are struggling in school right now with people bullying them, just tell someone about it.’
“I’m 29 years old and have a learning disability. I also have anxiety (PTSD) from being bullied very badly in school as a kid. I’m an artist, and I’m working on a graphic novel about what it was like to have a disability and be in special ed. I want to help other kids who are going through what I went through and share my story.
“I was 14 when I realized that I wanted to pursue art. I was in middle school when I was the most bullied. It was difficult for me to communicate what was happening, so I needed a way to express myself. When I was young, I read books that made me feel that the person was having the exact life as me, like Shannon Hale’s ‘Friends’ series and ‘Thank You, Mr. Falker’ by Patricia Polacco, who wrote about having dyslexia. It made me feel like I wasn’t alone.
“I’m writing a children’s book to help other children with bullying when they have a disability. I hope that those children will learn that there are other people that have gone through the same thing. We’re hoping my book will be a sensitivity awareness for people who bully, to make them aware how hard other people are struggling, to be kind to everyone because they don’t know what battle they’re fighting.
You’re not alone, so you don’t have to feel like the only person in the world that this happened to.
“I went to an art therapist, and art became the best way for me to get my emotions out. My disability was the catalyst that helped me to perfect my art. I am self-taught through YouTube videos and books. I do everything from stained glass to pottery to abstract art to portraits.
“I also want to give back, so I do cake decorating and make cupcakes through Birthday Wishes for children who live in a shelter. And I cook for 25 people at Bethany House, a shelter for women and children who are homeless. I also volunteered with the Friendship Circle, helping children with special needs have a friend.
“If I could give a message to children who have disabilities who are struggling in school right now with people bullying them, just tell someone about it. Tell a grown-up. I think there were people that tried to ask me, but I didn’t tell them because I thought I’d make it worse. The message of my book is that you’re not alone, so you don’t have to feel like the only person in the world that this happened to.”
Interviewed by Liza Burby