About the Author

My name is Hannah Thompson. I recently graduated from Elmhurst College with a B.A. in Communication. You can read about my college days at Hannah's College Adventures. I am a motivational speaker encouraging people to do their impossible. I was born with Cerebral Palsy and that does not stop me from doing anything! I am changing the world one audience at a time!

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

The Last Titan

With pomp and circumstance filling the auditorium and my little sister in her cap and gown, the last Glenbrook South titan of the Thompson family would graduate high school. 

Before the ceremony, we made memories by taking pictures in the backyard. I am grateful that I have a mother who takes the time to photograph occasions like these. As she confidently and beautifully strode across the stage, David, my little brother and I yelled as loud as we possibly could. It was such a wonderful moment! However, the ceremony was filled with mundane speeches. The distinguished alumni had been out of high school for 32 years so I have 23 years to earn that honor. I did the math multiple times during the ceremony just to make sure I had the right number. I promise to deliver to the class of 2040!



Genevieve has been the best little sister from day one. We all wrote Genevieve letters to commemorate her milestone. Here is mine: 

Dear Genevieve,

When you were born, I had an American Girl doll. On the day I held you for the first time, Mom asked me, “who do you like better”? I liked my baby sister much better than the doll. I loved Genevieve, my little sister.  You were so beautiful and I was so grateful I had a sister!

Growing up, we were a decade a part and you were such a fun part of our house. You liked the spotlight. In fact, you made a spotlight everywhere you went. Now, you’re putting that spotlight on people who need a voice. Let me assure you that you are the perfect voice for the voiceless. You are the epitome of integrity, strength, and pure and utter goodness.

You might notice when we go to D.C., you are the only teenage sister there. Even if you don’t notice, I do. I’m extremely blessed to have you as a voice and a little sister. You are a force to be reckoned with and I pity anyone who tries to stop the good you are doing. Hopefully, people are smarter than to mess with you.

I look forward to having a front row seat to your adult life. We have incredible parents who taught us right from wrong, how to treat people, and most of all, they taught us how to love deeply and wholly. The guidelines they taught us have helped me in every aspect of my life. I know they will help you throughout college and the rest of your life.

Right now, I can’t stop bragging about how authentically awesome you are. I’m proud to call you my little sister and fellow advocate.

You are my sister. You are my best friend. You had a piece of my heart as Mom let me hold you for the first time, that piece has only gotten bigger.

I love you,
Hannah!   

God bless and good luck to all the graduates of 2017! Do amazing things! 

Love, 
Hannah!  

P.S. The next post will be about Loyola, I promise!

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Looking for the Silver Lining

It's always something! 

My main caregiver told me she was pregnant March 31st and her last day had to be June 1st. I was shocked and upset. This woman and her husband had been done with babies for a long time. All I could think was how unfair it was. 

When people who are able-bodied tell me life is full of change, I want to tell them you don't get your arms and legs swapped out every year or so, you don't get to complain. This is just about the one thing that frustrates me to my very core. It's frustrating that my apartment door should literally be a revolving door because women are constantly in and out of my life. This job is a stepping stone for most which is something I understand. I may understand it but it doesn’t mean I have to like it.

Right now, I can say that I found a woman my age and I think she's going to do a really phenomenal job. We're in a position where the current caregiver can spend a few days with the new caregiver. I've never had that opportunity and I know it will make life easier. Still, to quote my mother, "your world is turning upside down." Exactly Mom, exactly. 

In everything, I choose to have hope for the greater good. I have expressed to God that I'm a little more than frustrated with His timing. Usually, girls are going off to school or to the job they really worked for. I can't figure out this one. I still am completely blind to the silver lining. In the professional sense, we had two months to find another assistant, everyone is doing everything they can to help me, and my other employees have been amazing about understanding how I feel to which I am grateful. I may be confused at why this is happening and I cannot figure out the silver lining. I have faith that I will see the silver lining although it won't be on my watch-it's on His.

Stacia, thank you for an incredible 18 months! You have been my rock and I am forever grateful. You will be a fantastic mother. I can't wait to hold that precious bundle of joy!

Anyway, my website is up and running! I've taken on the task of creating a professional Facebook page. If you have Facebook, Like it here. Right now, I'm building it. Please be patient! Also, I'm looking for contractual social media work. If you know of anything, please let me know. 

Looking for the Silver Lining,
Hannah! 


Thursday, March 30, 2017

What a Month!

As I walked the hallways of my high school, part of me wanted to run out, drive back to Elmhurst, and present at the College. The other part of me knew the reality of the situation. I was an alumnus coming back for career day. The feeling of accomplishment washed over any reminders of the loneliness that enveloped my high school days. I was not in high school; I was back for career day.

 
I had four presentations that day. I would start by telling them about the work I did for Easter Seals DuPage and the Fox Valley Region, River North Business Association, and finally the Dystonia Medical Research Foundation. I encouraged the high school students to get a mentor such as Dr. Sullivan Morgan of Elmhurst College and that their goals should scare them. 

 
Genevieve, David, and Mom accompanied me during the first presentation and helped me answer some questions. It was such a great feeling to have their support. The teachers allowed Genevieve to stay with me for every presentation which was amazing! It's one of the greatest memories I have with Genevieve. The Thompson girls reigned at Glenbrook South High School that day! I want to thank Mrs. Bolf, Mrs. Smith, and Ms. Simon for inviting me to career day. It was a blast! 

 
If that wasn't enough for one week, my sorority sister invited me to speak at her elementary school class two days later! We were discussing the book Out of my Mind by Sharon Draper. It's about an elementary school student who has Cerebral Palsy and uses a communication device to speak. The kids were amazing and asked fun questions. They were in fourth and fifth grade which is such a fun age to be around.

 
Most of you know my family and I went to D.C. and advocated for a cure for dystonia. We spoke to Democrats so we were preaching to the choir. We didn't meet any resistance. Even the advocates who met with Republicans didn't meet any resistance. We were all very grateful. I believe funding for the National Institute of Health should be a bipartisan issue regardless of whose sits in the Oval Office. I truly believe we took a step towards a cure this week.I congratulate all my fellow advocates on a positive, successful trip.

To top it all off, I was featured on Microsoft Chicago Blog! If you are so inclined, please feel free to read my post there: http://bit.ly/2nbSu5I.
 

I am so very grateful for all my family does for me. A neighbor of ours commented on Facebook that behind every great woman is a good family. That sums it up perfectly. 

 
Love, 
Hannah! 


Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Winning the War

If you didn't already know ABC has a show about a young man with Cerebral Palsy and his family. The show is called Speechless. “Maya DiMeo (Minnie Driver) is a mom on a mission who will do anything for her husband Jimmy, her kids Ray, Dylan, and JJ, her eldest son with cerebral palsy. As Maya fights injustices both real and imagined, the family works to make a new home for themselves, and searches for just the right person to give JJ his "voice” (ABC.com).

I've watched since the pilot intrigued by how ABC would portray a family like mine.

What I didn't like about the show:

- Jimmy, the father is portrayed as useless. Here's the thing. My dad does not need my mom to tell him what to do. I know my mom needed my dad to fix many pieces of equipment over the years. While we needed him for many things, he never seemed to look to Mom to know how to be a dad.  he is a strong man and would do anything for me with or without my mother. 

- JJ doesn't use text to speech technology. JJ does not use a computer generated voice; instead, he uses a light and an extremely low tech alphabet board. While I understand that this may be convenient for sitcom purposes, nobody I know would prefer people talking for them over having their own voice. In the latest episode, JJ has a device that does talk for him but in the end, he chooses to go back to his low tech board. It made me upset.

- JJ isn't fiercely independent. Okay, I have a fierce desire to be independent. People who are able-bodied or not want different levels of independence and I do respect and understand that. However, JJ never asks his assistant to leave if his friends are around. If I don’t need help, I don’t want someone around.

- Devices magically appear. If JJ wants or needs something, it magically appears. Life with a disability doesn’t work like that. If we want a new communication device, it takes about a year with insurance. I understand the show wants to educate people and I respect and applaud that but I’m saying people with disabilities have to have a lot of patience when it comes to getting the right equipment.

Things I like about the show:

- It does show JJ in physical therapy. This is real life. Therapy takes you away from homework, after school activities, time with family, time with friends, time to yourself, and anything I enjoy so it was nice to see the show include that. To me, physical therapy is like hitting the pause button on my vibrant life and focusing on Cerebral Palsy.

 - The siblings have their own story lines. This was crucial to me. JJ should not be the center focus of the family and the show did not do that…thank God! The two younger siblings have their own lives and that is how it should be. My siblings all are doing their own thing and we are who we are.
-
 JJ making friends is so wonderful to see. It wasn’t necessarily my reality in high school but for that to be an example on an ABC sitcom is incredible! I love that JJ is one of the guys.

- The mom. The mom on the show is my mother on steroids. She is fierce, relentless, and JJ’s number one fan. My mom is all of those things but with grace and poise.

Overall, the show does an excellent job of portraying life when you have a family member with a disability. The humor is great, the characters are dynamic, and I cherish seeing someone like me on screen. I don’t think the show will have a second season on ABC. I don’t think the storyline is that captivating. My prediction and hope is that Netflix picks this up.  I know a lot of people who didn’t like how Speechless portrayed other things such as special education. I welcome your comments down below. Please be respectful!

The Thompson family is headed to DC next month to advocate for dystonia. We’re pumped to go. I’m excited to see my friends from last year and hopefully, see new people, and to educate elected officials on the condition. With all the awareness from Speechless to getting to go to D.C., I can’t help but have hope for people with disabilities. It’s a long, uphill battle but we are winning the war.

Till next time,
Hannah!