The CDC estimates that 26% of adults in the United States have some form of disability.
A disability is any condition of the body or mind that makes it more difficult for the person with the condition to do certain activities and interact with the world around them. There are many different types of disabilities and between 80%-96% are hidden or not easy to see, including intellectual differences.
We asked Betsy and Kit, her mother, to share what it is like to live with an invisible intellectual difference.
Q: How do you refer to your disability?
Q: Why is that?
Betsy: Because I prefer that word. We all have differences and this is just one kind of difference, but we are also all more alike than different.
Q: Tell me what an average day in the life of Betsy looks like.
Betsy: I wake up, make my breakfast, feed my cat, and get ready for the day. I live at The Arc Village. I have two jobs. I'm an artist with Art With Soul at North Florida School of Special Education, and I just got a job at Windsor Pointe of Jacksonville with the culinary department.
Q: Did you forsee Betsy would be living independently and working as an adult?
Kit: I never doubted Betsy could do what she puts her mind to, but until recently there weren't many opportunities for independent living in our country. When The Arc Jacksonville Village broke ground, I knew right away, this was a place Betsy could thrive independently. Betsy has so much to offer workplaces and people. I couldn't imagine her not working.
Q: What are some of Betsy’s best qualities?
Kit: Betsy is bright, creative, kind, loving, proactive, encouraging, and a very thoughtful caregiver. She wants to love and be loved, and is very helpful.
Q: Do you ever feel like your coworkers or customers don’t understand that you may process information differently?
Betsy: At my last job, and it hurt my feelings.
Kit: These are all opportunities for managers and businesses to strive for a gold-standard culture of inclusivity. This includes ongoing education for coworkers, team-building, and providing reasonable accommodations. Research shows that these measures make businesses more appealing to job applicants and consumers.
Q: Do you have any advice on how to interact with people with intellectual differences?
Betsy: It's just like you would treat anyone else, with kindness and respect. Remember that we are all more alike than different.
Kit: Everyone has something to contribute and is of value to our community. When we take the time to get to know someone, we discover that for ourselves.