• Zoe Protor

international day of people with disabilities.


"The observance of the Day aims to promote an understanding of disability issues and mobilise support for the dignity, rights and well-being of persons with disabilities. It also seeks to increase awareness of gains to be derived from the integration of persons with disabilities in every aspect of political, social, economic and cultural life"

We asked our young adults what prejudices they come across and how it makes them feel in the hope we can change some of those stereotypes that still exist?


Should I be here? Prenatal screening for Down syndrome suggests I am not worthy of life. What do you think? 

Who am I?

I can laugh, cry, love and get stroppy! I can sing, dance, act and do gymnastics. I can read, write and draw. I love to dress myself, do my hair and makeup. I have loads of friends and love going to parties. I am permanently attached to my phone or my iPad.

I have quite a few labels, teenage girl, daughter, sister, friend, diva, social butterfly, school girl, model, actress, artist. 

I have an enhancement, an extra chromosome and the additional label of Down syndrome. 

I am different but we are all different. We all have challenges in life but it’s how we face them that matters. 

Who am I? I am me!


People might feel sorry for me because I had a brain injury when I was 12 and now I need to use a wheelchair.

Well, I’m so happy to be alive! I can’t achieve the things I used to in the same way, but I find ways to do things differently and have found different things to do that challenge me. Don’t judge me by the wheelchair, I love my life!’


Most people look at me and think, “why is she in a chair?” My disability is an invisible one, CFS/ME. The assumption people make of #CFS #ME is that it’s just tiredness, when really, that’s just the tip of the iceberg, CFS/ME is so much more. What people don’t see is the amount of #pain and #fatigue I feel every day, 24/7 with no relief. That is why I need to use a wheelchair when I leave the house. I don’t have the strength or the energy to leave the house without the assistance, without my chair I wouldn’t get out, it’s my lifeline to the world outside. One of the hardest things is that some people don’t believe the condition is real. Trust me, it’s very real. So, when you’re already going through a lot with your health, you really don’t need the extra stress of people judging you just from seeing you’re in a chair, it’s difficult and hurts. It has lasting effects, social anxiety being one of them. Not every disability is visible, and I want to help spread that message.


“ I have #Alopecia and Dissociative Seizures. I have a buzz cut due to Alopecia being unpredictable and this being the best hairstyle due to bald spots randomly appearing. 

My muscles are weak due to my Seizures and I have no warning of my seizures, For my safety when out and about I often use a wheelchair.

People look at me with sadness and often as if I have a terminal illness.

But the reality is...this is what #MentalHealth can look like.

Please don’t judge me before you know the real me. “ 


“Well you can’t tell there’s anything wrong with her!” That sentence is something I’ve heard many times over the years, and the reply is as always, “not all #disabilities are visual”, just because my disability is not visual it doesn’t mean I don’t struggle with things! My diagnosis is autism! like the saying goes, looks can be deceiving. Things people take for granted in life, little things like sounds, smells, looks from other people is something I find hard to judge, but just because I may seem to struggle and come across as some have said ignorant! (Which makes me really sad) when in reality it’s  because I’m shy and my anxieties are through the roof with worry, it doesn’t mean I don’t want friends, 

or to be treated differently to anyone else,

I just work around things slightly different to others.

I’m just Madison!


“It’s kind of awkward when little kids come over to you and ask why are u on a #wheelchair and can’t walk, it’s weird going on the street and people looking at me as if am different. It’s frustrating getting a big opportunity for a job and getting rejected just because I am in a wheelchair and they think I am not capable of doing it.

Well #disabled doesn’t mean we are not capable of doing things, we are useless.

Disabled means we are just differently capable of doing things.

We just do things our way and we could sometimes do it better”

Kathleen- written by mum Denise:

Caption: “Didn’t you have the test for Down’s syndrome??” 

Some people choose to take the test when they’re pregnant, either to be better prepared for the future if it the test is positive, or to have a termination. Sometimes, the test results are wrong, and your baby does have Down’s syndrome. Some people choose to not have the test either because they know they already love their baby no matter what, or they believe it only happens to other people.

Don’t ask, it’s hurtful, it’s offensive, simply because you imply that if we haven’t, we should have, and if we have, somebody effed up.

Whether we’ve taken the effing test is none of your business and all you need to know is that we love our kid just as much as you do, if not more. 


“ your not in pain, you look fine “ 

As a fighter of #ChronicPain, along with other symptoms. This is a sentence I hear daily! People don’t understand that chronic pain never stops, it’s a occurring thing that in a way you get used to. I’m use to being in pain every day, and cos of that I don’t let my illness and pain control me! I do everything I can to make myself a little, sometimes too much, to do “normal” things such as socialising and going to college. For some reason because I do these things, people seem to think my pain and symptoms just STOP! That I’m suddenly fine and I’m all better! Obviously that would be great, but that is not the reality. 

People with invisible illnesses need so much more understanding! Instead of saying “but you don’t look ill” ask that person what they’re fighting with. Instead of staring and looking down at a person in a wheelchair or walking aid, smile and if you wish ask them nicely “ Hope you don’t mind me asking but what’s the matter”. Not all but most people would actually prefer you to ask them, then stare them down and look at them like a alien! 

Just because we are disabled and a little different doesn’t make us any less HUMAN than everyone else! 


Being a full time #wheelchair user you can’t miss that when you see me but you also can’t see what’s going on inside, internally there is so much that’s failed, is failing and the constant pain, tiredness and monitoring I have to do but you don’t see. Yes I am smiling and looking “well” but I really do live with a serious illness and life threatening complications and yes it is a miracle I’m still here right now. But that isn’t going to stop me living, if anything it just makes me want to do even more. So I don’t need to be patronised, talked down or told “you can’t do this, you can’t do that, you’re too sick/disabled to take part.” You don’t know how well I am, what my normal is and how I function. Not every illness is the same and there is no time scale for “life threatening”. So don’t wrap me in bubble wrap, feel scared around me or put me in a box. Just ask and I’ll be happy to explain. Simple as that, just stop assuming and jumping to conclusions. There is no normal, there is no manual to read, we’re just individual people trying to live out our lives and chase our dreams. 


Some people who have never met Ellie may sign to her or look at me to ask me ‘what’s her name or how old is she’. I always say ask HER! She CAN talk !! Once they realise that she can they have a different perspective of her and her condition! And more often than not feel quite embarrassed! Especially if they see her dance! Then They seem to change their attitude and smile! They can’t believe her confidence, personality or the amazing energy that she naturally gives.

Hopefully then they realise that having Downs Syndrome doesn’t  hold her back or anyone else with Downs or special needs.

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