Happy Disability Pride Month!

Hello beautiful people! Happy Disability Pride Month!

If you didn’t know, July is Disability Pride Month. You probably will not see businesses promote that July is Disability Pride month, or see any celebrities promotng it. However, you will see so many disability activists, advocates, and allies sharing facts and their experiences growing up disabled. We share the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Growing up disabled is anything but easy. Going to too many doctor’s appointments before the age of five. Trying to make friends with kids who only view you as “different”. Navigating a world a world that isn’t designed for us. Living in a world full of ableists that treat disabled individuals terribly and wrong.

It is okay for a disabled individual to have less than great feelings about being disabled sometimes. I mean, wouldn’t you if you lived in a world that isn’t deisgned for you?

I am proud to be disabled. It took many years to fully accept my disablility. I doubted myself for years. I questioned everything. I wondered why. However, now I am proud and happy. My goal is to educate people on how to be inclusive and treat disabled individuals equally.

During Disability Pride Month, it is important to take time to learn, listen, and educate yourself on disabilites and what disabled individuals have went through in the past, and present.

Disablility advocates and activists work hard to educate everyone. Although I am apart of the disability community, I still learn from other disabled activists! I thank, and look up to, past disability advocates, and current. They help make the world a better, safer, accessible, and more inclusive world!

I hope that you take time this month, and beyond, to learn and help create a society that is accessible and welcoming for all.

I love you all and I hope you have an AMAZING day!

Happy New Year!: A Reflection on 2021

Happy new year beautiful people! Many are welcoming in 2022 celebrating with their friends and family. As for me, I am setting in my room watching a New Year’s Eve Celebration in Nashville, Tennessee on television. However, I am still celebrating. I am celebrating another year on Earth and celebrating a year closer to graduating college. While celebrating, I am also reflecting on many things that I am thankful for in 2021.

In 2021, many things happened. I am thankful for the new friends I have made, especially at college. In 2019, when I started college, I met some great people, but I wasn’t close to very many people. Then, in 2020, Covid happened and college was virtual. Even when we came back in person, I didn’t stay on campus very much, so I didn’t grow close with many people. However, this year I have become closer with so many amazing humans! People that authentically want to be friends, which can be hard to find sometimes. They don’t think twice about helping me when I need it!

I have also started my Spinraza injection therapy (You can see more about that on my YouTube channel, Caden Nelms). I was the first person on Georgia Medicaid to get approved for Spinraza! That’s crazy for me to think about. Also, I just finished my last loading dose injection yesterday, December 30th. Now, I will have three maintenance doses throughout 2022. I cannot wait to see what 2022 holds in terms of my disability, strength and the progress of Spinraza.

Next, I would like to reflect and thank everyone for reading, viewing, liking and sharing my content this year! I can’t thank everyone enough! From people who interact with me through TikTok, through Rolling Through Life Podcast, through these blog posts, through my Instagram or through my Twitter, I thank you SO MUCH! I cannot wait to see what 2022 holds for me and my effort to spread disability awareness and content.


I hope everyone has a Happy New Year and a great, safe 2022!!

Love you all beautiful humans!

International Day of Persons with Disabilities

(Audio version of International Day of Persons with Disabilities article)
(Image description: Background is a mix of greens, yellows, red, oranges, and blues paint in all directions. There is a solid white box with the words “Disability Inclusion Matters”. At the bottom of the box is clipart images of four people with varying visible disabilities.)

Did you know today, December 3rd, is International Day of Persons with Disabilities?

The inclusion of disability is essential in the world, not to mention a basic human right, yet many of us don’t see it. Why?

One reason is because society doesn’t recognize the discrimination and ableism as an issue. Many don’t even know what ableism is. So, if you don’t know what the term “ableism” is, let me explain. Dictionary.com defines the term in two ways:
1. The discrimination against disabled people
2. The tendency to regard people with a disability as incomplete, diminished, or damaged, and to measure the quality of life with a disability against a nondisabled standard

Ableism comes in many forms, not just words. It can be businesses refusing you service, businesses being inaccessible, businesses refusing to allow your guide dog, people assuming something about you based on your disability, people treating you differently based on your disability or people making negative comments based on your disability. 

Ableism can also be calling, or describing, someone with a word they don’t prefer, even after they’ve corrected you. Most disabled people don’t like the terms “differently-abled”, “handi-capable” or any other made up word used to avoid the term disabled. These nonexistent words were meant to be used to empower members of the disability community, but they actually take away a part of our identity and diminish our pride in being disabled. 

Here are 5 ableist things you should never do or say:
1. Never doubt or question someone’s disability
2. Never use any slur words
3. Never compare a person’s disability with someone else’s
4. Never pet a guide dog 
5. Never move someone’s wheelchair, walker, cane or other mobility device without permission

These are just a few of the endless list of ableist things that you should never do, but many of us disabled people face daily. 

Today, on International Day of Persons with Disabilities, educate yourself. Do a quick internet search on disabilities. There are endless amounts of resources available for you to learn how to be respectful and an ally to the disability community. 

“The way society thinks about disability needs to evolve, as too many people view disability as something to loathe or fear. By recognizing how disabled people enrich our communities, we can all be empowered to make sure disabled people are included.” ~JUDY HEUMANN, disability advocate

My Body is Tired…Again

(Image description: A beige, peachy color background. Orange, blue, a pink blobs of color border the image, along with white lines. The black text reads, “My Body is Tired…Again”)

(Audio version on the article, My Body is Tired…Again)

A few times throughout the year my body gets very tired, and stays tired for an extended amount of time. I am used to it. I am used to having to slow down and take a break. I am used to sleeping more than usual. I am used to my neck hurting from holding up my head. I am used to having difficulty eating sometimes. I am used to the depression that comes along with it. However, I am also used to the unusual fatigue ending. But this time is different.

This time it is lasting way too long. I think it has taken Covid putting a stop to me living life as usual to realize: my body is getting weaker. Since around October 2020, my body has been consistently tired. My jaw gets tired if I talk for a while (this is the primary reason for taking a hiatus from my podcast, Rolling Through Life). My neck is hurting worse than normal, and so are my hips.

Between the recovery of my kidney removal, the pandemic, doing college from home and then taking spring semester off, I listened to my body and took into account that SMA, Spinal Muscular Atrophy, continues to weaken your body the older you get. I decided to start trying to slow the effects of SMA on my body, both mentally and physically.

I started physical and occupational therapy full-time to keep the strength and movement for as long as I can. I took a lighter load of college classes this semester, and will probably continue to take lighter loads through graduation. I have also started the process of getting on a medication called Spinraza. Spinraza will stop the progression of SMA, and it has the chance to make me stronger! Also, I took a deep dive into learning more about mental health, why it is important and how I can help my own mental health. One of the biggest, most important things I’ve done has been surrounding myself with people who care and help me. From family to friends to professors to different faculty at Piedmont, it has been very helpful for me to find these people.

I have worked hard over the last year and a half to remain positive and not let depression and anxiety get the best of me, but it is very difficult. I have great days and I have bad days. I used to think that bad days meant I was weak and that I wasn’t strong, but boy was I wrong. The bad days are normal. They are what I call my “rest days”. Rest days are days where I do not try to impress anyone, even myself. I let myself feel bad for myself. On those days I don’t try to be the happy person I strive to be. I let myself be in a bad mood and complain. As of now they are more frequent, but I know that it will not last. On good days I will get up, feel happy, strong and positive. I am looking forward to having fewer “rest days”, but until then I am who I am and that is okay.

I say all of this not to complain, but to give people more of an insight of my life, currently. You never know what someone is going through in life. Always treat people kindly, even if they’re having an “off” day. Because having an “off” day isn’t a bad thing, it is a part of everyone’s life. Be kind to them, and as cliché as it sounds, treat others the way you want to be treated.

My “4 things”:
(for the meaning behind “4 things”, check out Amy Brown’s podcast, 4 Things with Amy Brown)

Self-Acceptance is Key

(Article originally written for “The Roar”)

(PHOTO// Caden Nelms)
Accessibility Description: A man with brown hair and blonde highlights smiling. He is wearing a light blue, 3-button shirt.

We all do it. We only post our “good” pictures on social media for everyone to see. What is the true definition of “good?” According to Dictionary.com, good is defined as “morally excellent.” However, society has created a stigma for this word to mean “pleasing to see” or “perfect.” What everyone sees in our most recent Instagram post are our shiny exteriors– nice makeup, perfect skin, nice clothes or a carefree smile. The internet doesn’t see the depression, anxiety, stress or you telling yourself you are not good enough. They don’t see you fighting with yourself on whether to post this picture with the caption “Living life to its full potential.” 

Instead, everyone is seeing this picture you have probably retaken 1,000 times. The picture that is defined by society as “good.” People are looking at this picture and thinking, “Wow, I wish I had a ‘normal’ life like this person.” In reality, you are probably saying the same thing about their most recent Instagram post. 

These instantaneous thoughts that we have daily can harm us. We begin to dwell on ourselves and how we are not as good as everyone else. We cannot compare ourselves with others, it is self-destructive. Every body is made differently, we are not meant to look or act the same, that would make for a boring world.

Instead, we must embrace ourselves for who we are. Be proud of your body, voice and personality. Be proud of your uniqueness, there is only one of you. As cliché as it sounds, live your one unique life to the fullest. Ignore society’s absurd expectations, post all the pictures that you want. Open yourself up, be brutally honest to everyone wishing they were you. Your life isn’t perfect, and neither is theirs. Everyone is battling something different, so why would you want to be someone else and have to deal with their battles?

Self-acceptance is key to living an honest, judgment-free, confident life on the internet.

What is a Curb Cut and the Curb Cut Effect?

Photo Description: A busy city sidewalk along side a busy city road. A person in a wheelchair using a curb cut to get on the sidewalk after crossing the street. (PHOTO// James Coleman on Unsplash)

Imagine this: You are going down the sidewalk in your wheelchair, on your way to visit your favorite shop, you need to cross the street and — BOOM! — you cannot get off the sidewalk to cross the street. That is what a curb cut is used for. It is a slight incline that goes from sidewalk to the road! In fact, along with the invention of the curb cut came the “Curb Cut Effect”.

So where did curb cuts originate? Let’s go back to the 1940’s. In 1945, the first known curb cut appeared in Kalamazoo, Michigan. However, the major known time era of the curb cut’s popularity was in the early 1970’s. Michael Pachovas and some of his friends, all of which use wheelchairs, went to a curb in Berkeley, California and made a makeshift ramp out from hand-poured cement. Police threatened to arrest the men, but never did. In the 70’s, Berkeley, along with most cities, was not very accessible. The Architectural Barriers Act of 1968 required government buildings, and government buildings only, to be accessible. However, the streets in the cities were not accessible, and actually were more of an obstacle course. After the continued advocacy and accessible rights movement continued in Berkeley, the city installed the first official curb cut in 1972. Now, virtually every city in America, both urban and rural, have curb cuts installed for accessibility!

The Curb Cut Effect

The Curb Cut Effect is a phenomenon of disability-related features or objects, like the curb cut, that is now used and appreciated by a larger group of people other than who it was originally designed for. In terms of curb cuts, many people use them when crossing the street. A few major groups of people that use curb cuts are parents with strollers and crossing the street, delivery drivers, bicyclists, skateboarders and anyone who walks down a sidewalk and crosses the street.

5 Other Examples of the Curb Cut Effect:

  1. Closed Captioning
    Closed Captioning was originally meant for deaf people, but now many people use it regularly.
  2. Transcripts
    Transcripts were also originally meant for deaf people, but many people use them to skim over the content without listening or watching to the content in it’s entirety.
  3. LED Flash for phone alerts
    LED Flash is apart of the accessibility features on phones. People use it to know when their phone goes off while on silent. It was originally intended for deaf people to know when their phones had a new notification.
  4. Text-to-Speech
    Text-to-Speech is another accessibility feature on many devices and programs and is used to easily get information without physically typing it. It’s original purpose was to assist people who could not easily type.
  5. Bold text
    Bold text is used to make words easier to read for those with vision loss. Now, many use it to indicate a title or important information and is available on most programs and devices.

Thanks for reading, have a fantastic day! Love you all!

Just Talk to Me: Having True Friendships is Hard

(Article originally written for The Roar)

Young Caden Nelms in a manual wheelchair holding a fish he caught during a family fishing trip. (PHOTO// Caden Nelms)

Being the only kid in a wheelchair in elementary school was difficult.

When a 7-year-old kid sees a wheelchair for the first time, they are going to avoid it. According to specialneedsplanning.net, approximately 2.8 million kids have disabilities. Yet, the conversation around disability, wheelchairs specifically, is not talked about enough with children. This is the reason I did not have many close friends growing up. There were kids that would tolerate being around me, but they would leave as soon as they had the chance. There were always people talking behind my back, specifically about how different I am because of something out of my control.

If someone does talk to me, they use the “baby” voice or act differently. It is important for people to know how to act around people with disabilities. You should always talk directly to the person who has the disability, not to the aid. If the disabled person cannot talk, the aid will jump into the conversation. It is always okay to ask if someone with a disability needs help, but if they decline the offer, do not do it anyway. Respect their choice to be independent and do not force help onto that person. Never be ashamed to ask about someone’s disability, but remember they do not have to talk about their private life. There are other “rules” to follow when interacting with a disabled person.

A conversation needs to happen with children, so they know how to act around a disabled person. If they knew how to act, I think it would normalize true friendships with disabled people at a young age. I did not have true friendships, and it makes it hard when you are older to start making friendships.

College has been my chance to start fresh and make new friendships. Once people are older, they know how to act and can develop friendships. It is still different and can be difficult to make friendships since I do need help sometimes, and people do not want to always help.

I share my story not to instill guilt in others, but in the hopes that future 7-year-olds in wheelchairs do not face the isolation that I faced.