Introduction

Hello and welcome to The Wheelchair Teen! My name is Simone and this is my website. On this page, you can find an introduction to my blog, information about me and my disability, and some suggestions for cool posts I think you should read. 😊

Me in a beautiful forest ❤

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Introduction to The Wheelchair Teen

Me in my wheelchair

When I go outside, most of the people in wheelchairs that I see are either elderly or adults. And there don’t seem to be many blogs on the internet about how experiencing normal teen issues like puberty and school can be like for someone who is in a wheelchair. Therefore, The Wheelchair Teen is about my life as a black, disabled teenager growing up in a foreign country surrounded by mostly able-bodied people (for those who don’t know, ‘able-bodied’ is a term that refers to everyone who isn’t disabled).

I hope I will be able to provide a new, unique perspective of teen life to a lot of people, as well as being able to raise awareness and educate people about important disability issues. My life’s goal is to fight for more disabled representation in popular media and to let more disabled voices be heard. I’m determined to help end ableism and to let my community be viewed as equals. Make sure you comment or email me at thewheelchairteen@gmail.com if you have any questions or suggestions for things you’d like me to address on this blog. Feel free to ask me anything!

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About Me

Me rolling near my house in Waalre

I’m from the Netherlands which is where I’ve lived since my family moved here from London when I was two. I’m the youngest in a family of six (four daughters) who were all born and raised in England. When you think Netherlands, don’t think lively and modern Amsterdam, think more village-y Holland. We live in Waalre surrounded by a mixture of modern buildings and animal farms. Cycle for a minute and you’ll encounter a herd of bison, another minute and you’ll pass a huge month-old hotel, another and the path will stink of aired out horse dung.

I go to an international English-speaking school where I am the only person there who is in a wheelchair, so going to school has most certainly been an adventure that comes with its ups and downs. I can speak Dutch fluently but I still grew up British watching shows like Balamory and Coronation Street, eating Malted Wheaties, and calling my parents Mummy and Daddy 😊.

Me drawing with a pen in my mouth

I’m an avid reader, an extreme superhero fan, and an enthusiastic film and TV-show lover. Most of the time I can be found curled up with a good book, blogging, or working on my comic book about a team of disabled superheroes. I also enjoy creating digital art which I used to design the headers and the logo for this blog. I type, write, and draw with a pen in my mouth since I have little movement in my fingers.

I was born with Serious Progressive Axonal Polyneuropathy. The condition is progressive, so I started out the same as any other child, but gradually my condition worsened as the disability progressed. I lost the ability to walk when I was thirteen so I’m now a permanent wheelchair-user. The doctors don’t know if the progression will stop or how fast it will happen or… anything really. I could wake up paralysed tomorrow for all we know. That’s why I’m trying to live life for the moment and be grateful for everything that I’m still able to do. No one else in my family is disabled and I’ve never seen anyone else with my condition – it’s very rare. The effects of my disability are:

  • I’m in a wheelchair and can’t walk because my legs can’t stretch out.
  • I have no control over my knees, lower legs, ankles, feet, or toes, but some control over my upper legs which I can use to wriggle and manoeuvre the rest about.
  • I have no control over my wrists so they flop around and have no movement in them.
  • My fingers are permanently curled inwards but I can still grip things with my left hand which isn’t very helpful since I’m right-handed.

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Reading Suggestions

Unsure where to start?

The Wheelchair Teen logo. The six different colours represent the six different categories on my blog.

My posts are split into six different categories which you can find at the top-left side of this page: Personal Experience posts tell stories about tough or triumphant events in my life, Thought Provoker posts are discussion posts that either raise awareness or tackle controversial topics, My Nugget of Wisdom for the Week posts are advice posts and I also share writing tips for authors who choose to write disabled characters, Current Updates and Recent Life posts are life updates that tell you about what I’ve been up to recently, Thinking Out Loud posts are about any topic that I feel like sharing or voicing my opinion on, In My Feeling posts centre around a specific emotion I feel regarding a certain aspect of my disability or life.

I recently created a new category: Disability Film and Book Reviews. There, you can find my review of films and books about disabled characters to support disabled filmmakers/authors and to raise awareness about disabled representation which is in fact problematic and inaccurate.

Here are some cool posts I think you should try! (Click on the post title to visit the post).

92 thoughts on “Introduction

    1. Thank you so much for reblogging this! It really means a lot! I’m glad that you are able to relate to my story. I try to write with honesty so that my tale can, hopefully, impact others positively – it’s all there, the good, the bad and the ugly, so that I can show my challenges and how I overcame them.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Wow! Thank you for opening up your story and my eyes to a glimpse of your life. I look forward to reading more and learning more about you. My son spent a year in Utrecht, so I went to stay a while 2 years ago. My kids grew up in London, where I taught inner-city, but we are in Nottingham now. Blessings. x

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your kind words. It’s cool that you spent time in both the Netherlands and London – they’re both beautiful places for different reasons. It means a lot that your interested in my story. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m so glad you are able to write this blog and share your story because it is enlightening to someone like me who has no idea and can only imagine what life is like for you. I love your positivity and enjoy reading your blog posts. Keep posting 😊

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you so much for this comment – it really made me smile 🙂 It means a lot that my story is enlightening to you because I hope to educate people with my experiences to make this a more understanding and accepting world when it comes to people like me. It’s heart-warming encouragements like this from people like you that help me to mantain positive and continue to do just that.
      I hope that you have a lovely day!

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Thank you for sharing about your life with us! I always find it enlightening when I read or get to know people with different perspectives. Can’t wait to sit down and read the rest of tour blog!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Your welcome, 🙂 I’m happy to share my perspective and hopefully teach people a few things that they may not have known before. I’m glad that you enjoyed it and I hope that you’ll enjoy the rest too.

      Like

    1. Thanks for the encouraging words. I’m so happy that I have this blog and that I’m a part of this online community where people make me feel happy and tell me not to give up. It’s honestly such a joy and is so uplifting so thank you for your kind words.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. hi there luv, i just want you to know how amazing you are as a person and to praise your talent in writing. i am in awe of how strong you are. Thank you for sharing your stories to us. You are an inspiration to all of us. We will for sure learn a lot from your blogs. You’re so young and yet you’re doing great things. How about that? applause!

    This is your safe zone dear. Be free. Tell us everything you are comfortable with. We’ll be here, reading ❤️

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you so much for this comment – It’s really sweet! It means a lot that you called me strong and an inspiration: all I want is for people to learn and be inspired to change because of my writing. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that my small, young voice could mean so much. I promise to be as free and honest as possible – I’ve always been grateful for the security and strength that this blog has provided me with, and it means even more knowing that you’ll be reading. 🙂

      Like

    1. It’s nice to meet you too! I really like your blog. I’ve never heard of SMA, it must be quite rare. Just the fact that we’re both wheelchair-users means that we probably have a lot in common when it comes to social experiences though. I can’t wait to read more from you!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I am too greatly impressed with your writing. We all, I am absolutely sure, are your friends and want you to write more. You are gifted, no, you are talented, and you should think of creating a book, maybe of short stories because you are perceptive and have already the objectivity and quirky sense of humor, that all great writers share.

    Joanna naturetails.blog

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you so much. That really means a lot. I am actually an aspiring author and hope to one day be able to write books with positive disabled representation to help raise awareness. Thank you for calling my writing quirky and humorous. 🙂 No matter what I talk about, I still aim to make it interesting. Thank you for commenting!

      Like

    1. Thank you so much for reblogging my post! I truly appreciate you helping me to share my story with others. I’m happy that you were able to relate with my post – you can probably understand the life that I live more than most since you used to take care of a disabled teen too.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Thank you so much for being vulnerable enough to share your story and help others understand. You speak so eloquently and your spirited endurance definitely shines through. You should be proud. I won’t claim to understand what life is like as somebody who isn’t able bodied but I do understand what living with illness is like. My partner has a lung condition that affects one person in a million. As he jokes, he well and truly won the genetic lottery! To this day I’m still learning new things about his life and what impact his illness has on everyday things. He has a trache and is often hooked up to a respirator. We’ve been together two years and I had the shock of my life when he showed me what using that trache was really like. I had thought it was a small thing but it was literally inserting a huge tube into a really big hole in his neck. He’s lived with it all his life so found my reaction amusing but I’d just had no idea.

    Anyhow, I’m so happy I found your page and can follow along with your journey as of now! x

    Maryam
    https://infinitelyadaydreamer.com

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you so much! Wow, your partner sounds great, I couldn’t imagine what it’s like to use a trache either. It’s cool that he’s used to using it. Living with illness can be tough, I’m glad that you’re able to relate. I’m looking forward to having you along with my journey and I can’t wait to see more of you too since I subscribed to your website. 🙂

      Like

      1. Indeed. It’s funny how as people we can get used to anything if we live with it for a considerable amount of time! It either becomes second nature or just something that comes with us. You are such a beautiful soul and I know I’ll learn a lot from your writing. Thank you so much for the follow! x

        Liked by 2 people

  7. Pleased to meet you! Good for you for opening up and shouting to the world about your life experiences. I love the way you write. It’s engaging and mature, and your personality shines out from your words. I’ll be popping back for more 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’m pleased to meet you too! Thank you so much for showing an interest in my writing, I’m glad that you enjoy it so much. I thought that it was important to share my life experiences because not many people know about disabilities or what it’s like to live with one. I subscribed to your blog and I also can’t wait to read more from you too. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Hi..you liked one of my comments on someone else’s blog and that’s what led me here. First of all, when I started reading, I was shook. I was truly speechless. I don’t know if I felt sad for you or truly happy to be inspired from you. I myself am a teen( just turned 13 in this July 2020) and I recently started my cooking blog. I am so stunned to see that after all that happened, you built a whole new life for yourself. Keep going and keep growing..how old are you by the way? And I had a tiny doubt though. If you can only use your left hand then how do you type?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words, Aarushi! I’m happy that my words inspired you. Don’t worry, you don’t need to feel sad – my life may be different from yours but I just find different ways to do things and overcome the challenges that I’m faced with. Wow! I’m impressed that you started a cooking blog at just 13-years-old! I really like cooking blogs so I just visited yours and now I’m subscribed to you as well. I can’t wait to read more from you! Instead of typing with my fingers, I type with a pen in my mouth. There is a short, one-minute video of me showing how I type with my mouth here if you’re interested: https://thewheelchairteen.home.blog/2020/01/26/how-to-write-with-a-pen-in-your-mouth/

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Your most welcome! Ya like i said earlier, I am very stunned today we that you have found your own little ways to do things in life. Thank you so much for subscribing. And I look forward from reading in your blog. Wow! That’s very innovative. I would never have thought about it ! Well I’m glad to see the video too.take care and good luck!

        Liked by 1 person

  9. I read this post after reading your post about participating in the 10K for a charity. You are an amazing young person and definitely more of an inspiration than you can ever imagine.
    I have a chronic illness, but I have found ways to be more healthy and have not ended up in a wheelchair or even walking with canes. I do understand what it feels like not to be understood, though. When a person appears to be able bodied but is actually struggling, people just assume that that person should be able to do what everyone else can do.
    It inspires me to see you being so brave and working hard to overcome. Keep up the good work!
    I agree with the blogger above who encouraged you to write books. I think it would be great if you could publish a children’s book; perhaps if children were better educated in the challenges and triumphs of others, they might grow up to be more understanding adults.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you so much, I truly appreciate your words. Yes, you have what some people call an invisible disability. People often don’t take them as seriously merely because they can’t see them which is extremely unfair because they can be just as difficult to live with. When someone with no visible disability walks out of a disabled toilet, I try not to be too judgemental because I know that not all disabilities are noticeable from the surface. I’m happy that my story was able to inspire you. I am planning to write a novel with disabled representation, actually it was multiple people commenting on my blog who inspired me to do so! I’m going through the planning process now and hope to start writing next year since I’m quite busy with my studies now. I completely agree with you about the education of young children – that’s why I’ve given numerous presentations to children about disabilities. They went so well that the person who invited me to do them has asked for me to do more, to even more classes, so I’m very excited about that. I wrote a post about it on my blog if you’re interested: https://thewheelchairteen.home.blog/2020/09/06/my-first-educational-talk-to-children-about-disabilities/ Thank you so much for your support and your incredible comment ❤

      Like

    2. I agree, Ruth, that’s a great idea!
      I have a friend who is blind, and he wants to write a children’s book to help kids understand his life. It’s about a white cane moving through town – by itself! Because according to him, when people encounter him that’s all they see. I think at the end the person finally appears, and everyone is surprised that there has been a person there all along.

      Liked by 3 people

  10. I just read this introduction, because from your other posts I wanted to know more about you. You said you are a “book nerd.” I would love to send you a set of my books. I have a fictional trilogy that was written for readers your age, and a nonfiction called “BARRIERS (So, if prayers are so powerful, how come mine don’t get answered?)” I believe you would be my first reader in the Netherlands 😊 If you’re interested, email me at bascha3870@yahoo.com.
    I’m glad I “discovered” your blog today. You are an excellent writer! (I am a highschool English teacher and very lucky, so I don’t say that to many people, especially your age. 😏)

    Liked by 3 people

      1. The trilogy is called “AWAKENING.” The three books are entitled “Counselor,” “Vision,” and “Sparrows.” The main character is a young American woman, 22, who meets a remarkable man who has cerebral palsy and is legally blind. As she gets to know him (and love him) questions start to arise as to who exactly this person is …? My publisher compared it to the “Twilight” series, except it isn’t about vampires! It’s more of a “Predawn” – the light grows brighter instead of fading. 😉 The story tells of the young lady’s coming to Christ, discovering who she is in the Body of Christ, and learning spiritual warfare in the midst of 9-11. It’s partly autobiographic. 😉

        Liked by 1 person

  11. How thank you so much for sharing your story and your setting about you. This has been so interesting to read and to learn so much about Serious Progressive Axonal Polyneuropathy, I was truly gob-smack . I don’t know if I felt sad for you or truly happy to be inspired from you. I am a teen and I have been following your journey love reading your post and want to thank you for supporting and commenting on my post I love to get questions it’s the best feeling when left a comment or like. Thank you so much for being you hope we can become good friends. I am so stunned to see that after all that happened, you built a whole new life for yourself. I was wondering how did you adjust to living in Netherlands and did you remembering living in London and one more question how different is society in Netherlands?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. You’re welcome! I’m happy that you found it to be interesting 🙂 Don’t worry, you don’t need to feel sad – my life may be different from yours but I just find different ways to do things and overcome the challenges that I’m faced with. You’re welcome for the comments – I genuinely enjoy reading your blog. Your posts are always fun and put a smile on my face. And us teenage girl bloggers have got to stick together! I hope that we can be friends too 🙂 I can’t remember living in London but we visit it every holiday for months each year so it feels as if I know what it would be like to live there. Netherlands is quite different but all in a good way – the streets are cleaner, there’s almost no litter, it’s beautifully green, the land is completely flat with no hills… Also, English culture is very intergrated into Dutch culture. They pretty much only play English songs on the radio and English films in the cinema and almost every can speak English here too. The biggest culture shock would probably come from the food which is VERY different, the language is quite rough and harsh on the tongue, and the celebrations are quite different too. Actually recently we celebrated Sinterklaas which the Dutch celebrate instead of Christmas. I woke up to find my shoe outside of my door with a giant chocolate letter S in it (one of the Sinterklaas tranditions).

      Like

    1. Thank you. Actually, sharing about my life on my blog has helped me to accept myself more and certain experiences that I’ve been through. And I’m also so thankful for the supportive blogging community. God bless you too, I hope that you have a great day ❤

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Sharing our experience with others is always helpful and it benefits all. The sharing person feels light hearted and the listener is widening their perspective beyond their own life.
        Be safe, healthy and happy☺️

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Tangie. I thought that it was important to share my personal experiences because I’ve been through some good times and I’ve been through some bad ones. Hopefully, sharing the bad will educate others and other disabled people won’t have to go through the same – and sharing the good, shows people that there is beauty and happiness to be found in being different ❤

      Like

  12. Thank you for visiting my blog and allowing me to discover yours! You are quite creative and a great writer. I also appreciate your determination and resiliency in the face of your disease. You’re a brave young girl. Thank you for putting your story out for the world to inspire others. 🌞

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’re welcome, I honestly enjoyed reading through your blog. Thank you so much for these compliments, they truly mean a lot ❤ Determined is something I've always tried to be when it comes to my disability, it's really helped me through a lot. I'm glad that you think that I'm inspiring – that's one of the reasons that I started my blog: to inspire 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s good to meet you too! XD Book nerds are the best people – we enter into so many different imaginative and creative minds when we read and we explore and learn more about human nature and the real world too. What kind of things do you like to read? 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh, I’m all over the place. I enjoy inspirational stuff like C.S. Lewis and G.K. Chesterton, well-written mysteries like Agatha Christie and Cormoran Strike (J.K. Rowling writing as Robert Galbraith), fantasy and sci-fi (Tolkien, Lewis, Dune, Discworld, I Am Legend, Watership Down, Harry Potter, etc.), some history and biographies, more. You?

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I’m also an Agatha Christie fan and I enjoyed The Lord of the Rings books too. Regarding classics, I enjoy Ray Bradbury, Jules Verne, Charles Dickens, and John le Carre. I spend most of my time reading authors from all over the world and from a diverse range of genres like Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Gregory Maguire, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Khaled Hosseini, and Patrick Ness.

        Liked by 1 person

  13. Hi Simone,
    I feel privileged to have met you here via Saanias blog and I hope this current time in history is not proving especially difficult for you.
    I started my blog in November 2017 before one of my trips from my home in north west England to Gambia, West Africa and it is a work in progress.
    I think your blog, as well as being written from the heart, is the most straight forward and inviting for readers to find their way around and I certainly need to follow your example. That aspect itself causes me to reflect on how ‘all over the place’ my blog as in, at times my apparent ‘all over the place’ life May frustrate readers of my blog and some people in my life who I feel don’t really get how I tick.
    I really love your logo.
    Every year I buy the calendar and other gifts from The Mouth and Foot Painting Artists. Each month a painting by a particular artist accompanied by a quote features and which I stick in my journal along with ‘Africa’ by St Patrick’s Missions based in Co Kildare, Ireland whose missionaries work in Africa, Latin America and The Carribean.
    I feel I could write a book here says she!
    I have many disabled and wheelchair bound friends in The Gambia especially.
    I feel we were meant to meet Simone.
    Take care
    Margaret ❤️🙏

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello Margaret,
      I feel happy to have met you too ❤ My blog also used to be all over the place. I only recently did a little cleaning up, you’re actually the first person to read my new Introductions page! I’m so happy that you think that it’s inviting for visitors to find their way around, that was one of my goals when I started to update everything. Also, I hadn’t fully accepted my disability when I started my blog so a lot of my early posts were quite negative and bleak about my outlook on life. Now that I’ve grown to accept who I am, my posts have reflected that by becoming much more positive and encouraging. I’m glad that you enjoy my logo too, I really love rainbow colours.
      It’s great that you see so much art created by mouth and foot painting artists. A friend recently bought me a picture book about a disabled boy that was illustrated by a mouth artist. They definitely deserve more support and appeciation for their incredible work. I hope to one day be a professional mouth artist like them. Wow, you probably have more disabled friends than me! Other than on WordPress, I have no real-life wheelchair-user friends. Although I hope to meet more of them one day.
      Kind regards,
      Simone

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hi Simone,
        Lovely to hear from you and that I have had the privilege of having first sight of your new enticing introductions page.
        I find blogging has helped increase my self awareness with a lot more work to do.
        I am so glad to hear your blogging experience has helped your self acceptance.
        I wish you all the best with your mouth and foot painting endeavours.
        I will perhaps do a blog post about my Gambian friends respecting their anonymity.
        Hopefully one day I can return 🙏 and include them in my endeavours.
        As you say, hopefully you will meet more wheelchair user friends one day.
        Take care
        Margaret ❤️

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello! I’m glad that you’ve been enjoying my blog so far. I’m also happy that I found your blog too, I truly enjoyed reading through some of your posts this morning. I promise to keep writing and raising awareness about disabilities. My only hope is that one day I can make a true difference when it comes to how my community is treated.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you, Simone. I’m happy to hear that. Do keep writing and raising awareness about disabilities. Hopefully, you’ll inspire more people to start sharing their experiences and accept themselves. O hope that all this helps in bringing about a change.

        Liked by 1 person

  14. Its honestly brave of you to be able to share your life story with us. You are a really talented blogger and you will definitely be successful in life, no matter what obstacles come your way.
    Keep blogging, keep enlightening.
    Stay blessed!
    Love,
    digitalbloggingdaily

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for this heart-felt comment ❤ I actually really like sharing my story here because it helps me to come to terms with everything and also empowers others. I hope to one day be a public-speaker or a campaigner for more disabled representation in films. Aw, that’s such a kind thing to say! I promise to keep blogging and to keep enlightening. I hope that you’ll stay blessed too! 😊

      Like

  15. Simone, morning from India. Lovely to come towards village-y holland. Its also great to find you here, read your words, experiences that are but the most important experiences for all of us. Hoping to read and keep reading in the coming time from you.

    Friend
    Nara x

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello Nara, nice to meet you. I’m glad that you enjoyed seeing pictures of my country and getting to know me better. I’m touched by your friendly and thoughtful comment. I’m happy that you decided to follow me along on my journey. Thank you so much for visiting ❤

      Like

  16. Hello Simone! I have no words for what I feel when I read your introduction. I think it is amazing that you are doing this blog and I look forward to learning more about you as I read your posts. Prayers and hugs that you stay strong and don’t give up the fight. You are an inspiration!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello! Thank you so very much for these kind words. I’m happy to have you along on my journey. This blog has helped me to overcome a lot. In the beginning, I was still very sad and conflicted when it came to my disability. Now, I’ve fully accepted who I am and am proud to be disabled. And thank you so much for the prayers and the hugs, I’m so happy that you find me to be inspiring. I hope that you have an incredible day 💕

      Liked by 1 person

  17. Hi
    I visited your site. I read your introduction. I am so happy. Good work doing. I like. I wish to god to you. help. You are a strong women. Your gol have to succeed.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello! Nice to meet you. I’m so glad that you visited my site! 😊 Thank you for reading my introduction and for these lovely, kind words about my work. I’m happy that you think that I’m doing good work here. Thank you so much for calling me a strong woman too! I’m sorry that it took me so long to respond – I was taking a month break from my blog but I’m back now. I hope that you’ll have a lovely week! ❤🌷❤

      Liked by 1 person

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