Real Life with John Quinn
How John W. Quinn’s Parents’ Attitude about His Disability Created a Success Story.
In John W. Quinns’s autobiography, Someone Like Me: An Unlikely Story of Challenge and Triumph Over Cerebral Palsy (2010, History Publishing Company), he credits the way his parents approached his diagnosis by giving him the determination to overcome daily obstacles and successfully serve in the United States Navy for twenty years. His story is not just one of inspiration, but also one that gives insight into the influence parents of Special Needs children have on their child’s self esteem and future independence.
“My Disability Was Never the Focus in Our Home”
When John was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy at the age of 4, his father made it very clear that his son would not be labeled “handicapped.” John believes that his parents accepted his diagnosis, but focused on his quality of life rather than a medical term because that’s where they wanted him to focus. This was not the typical 1970’s perspective of disability.
“I don’t remember the word limitation being used in my house. I remember just the opposite. My parents constantly told me that I could do just about anything that I put my mind to. They were trying to instill a mindset in me of determination, perseverance and hard work.”
John was never wheelchair bound or dependent upon others for his self care. However, Cerebral Palsy affected his gait, balance, reflex, posture, and vision. Corrective devices and regular Physical Therapy were used since early childhood. Yet discussion of John’s differences was not permitted in the Quinn household.
“We just did what was required and acted like wearing an eye patch or orthopedic shoes was as normal as brushing your teeth.”
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