Robert's Story

Thanks for taking the time to visit my page. Mine is an ongoing story, beginning even before I was born. See, I grew up with a birth defect called spina bifida. My spine was partially unformed, and I needed to have an operation soon after birth. Having spina bifida resulted in all sorts of medical problems for me,  because the nerves leaving my spine didn't all work as they should. Consequently, balance was, and is, tough for me, and I walk with a limp. Many people with this disorder use wheelchairs to help them get around. The nerves to my kidneys were also affected, and unfortunately, I've had many kidney problems over the years. 

The disabilities I've had have had their ups and downs. When I was a little boy, children looked, even stared at me because of the way that I walked. There were many times that my schoolmates would laugh and call me names. Of course that hurt, but now I understand that they just didn't know how to behave around anyone with a difference. Things are changing for the children of today because they learn more about disabilities, and they go to school with kids who have them. 

Now that I'm grown up, I have noticed that people don't stare so much, and they no longer call me names. I think I'm moving into the land of acceptance!  The signing of the Americans with Disability Act played a great part in breaking down some of those barriers that, as a child, left me to fight a war that seemed to have no end. 

Now I look beyond what I can't do and focus on what I CAN. 

It's interesting. I have learned that limitations open doors as well as close them. I have learned to get things done in the most creative ways. And I have learned that life should be looked at as a challenge, not as a threat.

People often feel sorry for those born with some type of disability. Please don't. Though I may not be able to run as fast or do some things the way you do, my medical challenges have taught me that life is precious and filled with miracles. Please don't see me as a disability, but rather as a person who loves to teach, loves to write poetry, and loves to grow...and develop...and bloom.. 

I decided to become an advocate on behalf of disabled people, to fight for rights that for too long have been ignored. I really believe that it takes only one powerful voice to change many minds, and as long as I have a mouth to use and a mind to think I will work to do just that on behalf of the disabled community. If you have the time, you might want to stroll over and visit a few of my other pages. In the meantime, here's a sample of my poetry:


        Everyday I fight to break down walls
        To reach beyond judgments
that man has installed.
        Past concrete dividers, 
My crippled body waits.
        For the day Society learns,
        from all its mistakes.

Bobby's world
Beyond limitations

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Joan Fleitas, Ed.D., R.N.
Associate Professor of Nursing, Lehman College, CUNY
Bronx, New York 10468

Last updated: November 14, 2004