Guest Blog: Diana Aranda-Curtis
I was born in 1958 with Cerebral Palsy, due to a complication during birth. My first memory of learning that I was disabled came to me during a doctor visit at the age of seven. My life changed. The doctor told my mother about a school for children with disabilities. They decided that it would be better for me.
I had just started 2nd grade at the same school my siblings were attending. We all walked to school together but now I was being sent to a different school. A school bus would pick me up and bring me home each day. I would no longer be able to be with my siblings.
I didn’t want to go to a different school. I protested when the bus came to pick me up. It was a struggle to get me on but soon I was on this school bus filled with children with many different disabilities. I saw children in wheelchairs, children with crutches and walkers, and children who needed to wear braces to walk. I examined myself and wondered why I was at this school. I didn’t use a wheelchair. I didn’t need a walker, crutches nor leg braces.
My life was now very different and I had to adjust. I grew up not being around my brothers and sisters. They all shared or knew the same principals, staff, teachers, and friends. I had a life of loneliness. Even though I went home each evening, I was going home to a family who didn’t know anything about me. They didn’t know my principal, my teachers, or any of my friends.
The school I went to was for children 1st through 12th grade, located in the Southeast side of San Antonio, and had students from all over San Antonio. Most of those in my grade, and there were not many, lived in the Northside or Westside. I lived on the Eastside. I couldn’t go to a friend’s house after school or during the summer. My siblings were able to visit their friends but I felt left out.
It wasn’t until I was in the 10th grade that many students were being streamlined to regular schools. Some were able to make it and some did not. I was one of the students who could not make it at a regular school. I had no idea what to expect at a regular school. I didn’t know anyone there. I felt insecure and afraid of this change.
The school became an elementary school and still uses the mascot that we voted on but there is not anything left of the school that I attended. There are no school reunions; many of my friends died at an early age due to their disability. I was left to find a way to live in a world that I never got to know.
I have struggled since graduating and I still struggle today. Bringing those with disabilities to be a part of this world is very important. It teaches everyone that we are all different; but that we all matter.
Diana Aranda-Curtis became a wife and mother, raising four children and has eight grandchildren. She is a compassionate person who serves at Baptist Temple in many ways but particularly through the Highland Park CAN thrift store and food pantry.