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Common Reading 2022: The Beauty and Care of Disabled Friendships by A. H. Reaume

The Beauty and Care of Disabled Friendships — A. H. Reaume

Reaume describes her experiences navigating relationships with disabled and non-disabled friends and family following a brain injury. She demonstrates some of the struggles of living with an invisible disability, like having loved ones accuse her of faking her ongoing condition. The author also talks about how making disabled friends has helped her find community and come to terms with some of the changes in her life.

Discussion Questions

1. How can you avoid making harmful assumptions about people, especially when it comes to ability/disability?

2. How do you navigate friendships with people who share common identities/experiences with you and with people who don’t?

Class Activity

Explore at least three stories from the Disability Visibility Project (articles, podcasts, etc.) What did you learn by listening to these stories from people in disability communities? Did you learn anything that you could relate to or that you could use to be a better ally?

Introduction — Taylor Meehan

When I was asked to write this introduction, I considered the word renewal. I feel as though I start anew at least a few times a month. My disabled life goes in cycles. On a good stretch of days, I cook for myself, I keep my apartment clean, I fold my laundry. Then my pain flares up, and I spend most of the following days in bed. I do the bare minimum—class when I can, work when I can. Everything seems to fall apart so quickly. The dishes pile up. I run out of clean clothes. My various messes sit in piles around the living room, kitchen, bedroom. 

And then, after resting, the pain eases, and I pick up the pieces. Slowly face the pile of dishes. Pick up my messes. Slowly resume participating in the things I love. Carry on until it happens again. Is it sustainable? Probably not. But it’s my life. 

I thought this was just how it had to be. And then, I moved in with someone who has chronic pain too. And she just got it. She’d clean the dishes before they piled up, and I’d wash her clothes when she couldn’t stand long enough to walk to the laundry room. We didn’t apologize for asking for help, or for cancelling plans. We didn’t have to. We weren’t ashamed of our limitations. 

In “The Beauty and Care of Disabled Friendships,” the writer discusses the beauty and necessity of an understanding support system while living with a disability. It’s integral to physical and mental health to have friends you can be your full self around without guilt or shame. 

While it’s extremely important for disabled people specifically, I believe this need for an understanding support system exists for everyone. As you read, consider: What do you need out of a support system? How will you curate that for yourself as you embark on the next phase of your life? 

Related Disability Visibility Project Podcast Episodes

About the Author

A. H. Reaume is a feminist activist and writer whose life was changed by a head injury in 2017. She is a columnist for Open Book, is working on a novel, and has been published in USAToday,, Forbes, and The Globe and Mail.

Additional Resources

Get Involved!

Susquehanna University is committed to working with students who have disabilities by providing reasonable and adequate accommodations. Our director of disability services works with students to develop self-advocacy skills and provides guidance to assist students with disabilities.

Learn more about Disability Services


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