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In this video, people with disabilities tell stories about their experiences of adulthood.
ANTONI: Having finished my university degree, and just like anybody else, you know, I had to find a job. The next thing I need to think about is having a family, just like anybody else. But I was a bit down at the time. You know, like, I do really need to have somebody who loves me for whatever I am. And then, even then, there was the one who said that she was very serious to marry me when she was coming to Australia to meet me. In the end, her parents refused me. They say that, “There is no way a man with disability “is going to be able to support you “or to give you a child.” It was quite heartbreaking.
But I always believed that God will never, ever cause you difficulties that you cannot endure.
JORDANNA: I had a massive barrier while I was pregnant. You know, first-time mother. I wanted to prepare for the birth and learn what I had to do, so I looked into natal classes and I wanted to bring an interpreter into the class, but I couldn’t do that because it was a group session, and they said no. They told me that I needed to have a one-on-one session. And then I said to them, “But hang on a second. “I wanted to be involved in the group sessions “so I could learn information from the other mothers.” So, therefore, I missed out.
VIVIENNE: The main reason why my first marriage failed was my husband couldn’t stand having a woman smarter than him. He didn’t like my fat pregnant stomach on two occasions either. After my children were born, I wasn’t the obedient woman he married either.
ANTONI: I still keep my faith in God. You know, I keep praying that I believe, out there, there would be another girl who would love me as much as the one whose parents refused me. Then I met Yuki. And I exposed my disability to her right away because I didn’t want to hide anything because if she really loves me, and then, yeah, she should love me for whatever I am. And then Yuki said that, “I don’t care if you have a disability or not.” And she said that she was serious to meet me. She told her mum. And then her mum said, “It’s your life. It’s your decision. “If you think that you really love Antoni, “then go marry him.
“But never play with his heart.” This is what her mother said.

Being an adult is when many of the normative assumptions around what it means to have a good life are felt most strongly. There are certain roles and identities which are often socially and culturally linked to adults living a good life.

Some images which come to mind when thinking about the Western stereotype of a good adult life might include having a job, owning a home, being in a committed relationship and having children. In many ways, these ideas reflect those of an ideal citizen in a capitalist society– that is, one who is productive and reproductive. But as we’ve been exploring, this list can be very limiting and does not necessarily match what people experience as living a good life.

portraits of the five guest speakers, laughing and smiling

In the above video, the guest presenters tell us some of their life experiences from adulthood. A link to an audio description of this video is available in the See Also section below.

When Antoni is talking about what he wants from his life, he refers to some of the things in the list above. Antoni wants a job, a partner and a family. But what is also crucial to Antoni is that someone loves him “for whatever I am” — a love which he eventually finds in Yuki. Throughout Antoni’s story he also refers to his faith in God. His beliefs are of great comfort for him in adulthood, as they give him faith that he will live a good life.

Like Antoni, Jordanna seeks connection. When she was pregnant she wanted to learn about pregnancy from other women, not just from professionals. But the clinic didn’t allow her to bring an interpreter to a group session. This felt like a significant barrier to living a good life, because she was not treated equally or allowed to connect to other mothers.

Talking points

  • What do the guest presenters see as the key issues of adulthood?
  • What makes it different for them from either adolescence or ageing?
  • How do their experiences of adulthood compare with your own?
  • What do you see as the key challenges for people with disabilities in adulthood?
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Disability and a Good Life: Thinking through Disability

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