Growing Up As A Martin

I can't tell you what it was like to grow up with a disability. I only know what it was like to grow up as me, Marty. I know that I was not as strong as other children. The doctors called it "Benign Congenital Hypotonia", an unusual kind of Muscular Dystrophy. It just meant that I was weaker than the other children. I went to a pre-school for the handicapped a long time ago, and I remember seeing children there with cerebral palsy and other types of problems. I had weak muscles in my mouth and they made it a little hard for me to talk, so I went to a speech class to learn how to speak more clearly. When I went to school in the morning, it was hard for me to climb those big steps to get on the bus. When I arrived at the school, the bus would back up to a big platform, so it was easier for everybody to just walk off the back. But I didn't stay in that school for long.

After pre-school, my family moved out of the city and I went to regular schools from then on. Things were harder for me in "regular" schools. I had to climb up and down those big school bus steps both to get on and off the bus, twice a day. And I had to walk farther to get to my room. One of the scariest things was if the bus was late, everybody else would already be inside the school. I would have to try to open those giant heavy school-building doors all by myself. What if I couldn't get one open? I worried about that. I knew that I would be in big trouble for not going to school, even if, really, I was just trapped on the wrong side of the door.

Sometimes I would do what everybody else did in gym class, and sometimes I would just watch. I could barely run or kick, so of course nobody ever wanted me on their kickball team. Whenever they had a race or a contest of any kind I would lose, so I just stopped trying. The gym teacher had never been taught how to teach children with physical differences, so he didn't know what to do with me.

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