My name is George Vega. I’m getting my Masters in mental health counseling, and hope to go on to a Ph.D. My plan is to work for the Veterans Administration, with returning combat veterans. I’m working there now.

I have spinal muscular dystrophy — atrophying the muscle and spinal cord. It’s one of forty different types of muscular dystrophy. I am thirty-nine, and was walking up until age eleven. That’s when I first got into a wheelchair. I have six children and a grandson.

Right now some faculty members are working to get a paper I wrote about disabilities published. I have a theory that in order for a disabled community to really be a community and a culture unto itself, it needs to have a name. The word “disabled” is so condescending. It think it literally takes away from our abilities. So I came up with a new term: “Adaptively Abled”. I think it has a positive spin that describes our culture and community. We adapt to our surroundings and our environment, to the people around us. We use adaptive equipment. And we are able. Disabled people are unique, just like everyone, and we each have special abilities and capabilities. I think that we need to start highlighting our positive traits and stop using terms like “disability”, “special needs”, and “physically challenged.” Those words are just pathetic to me.