When you are disabled and/or chronically ill, self-acceptance is an important step in dealing with yourself and your disability – or in Antonia Feistenauer's case, her disabilities and diseases. What or who helps her in everyday life, what – on the other hand – would help society in dealing with disabilities, she told REHACARE.com.
Name: Antonia Feistenauer Age: 23 City: Regensburg, Germany Occupation: unable to work Impairment: Various chronic diseases, for example rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. In addition, my autism and problems with the musculature and nerves are accompanieing me, the cause of the last ones is unfortunately still unknown.
Antonia Feistenauer: When I could laugh from the heart with my husband about something and had special joy in a moment or activity.
Which auxiliary means or daily living aids are indispensable for you?
Antonia Feistenauer: Outside, I'm usually in a wheelchair because walking is very stressful due to my stiff leg, among other things, and I occasionally fall and can only move forward slowly. On "good" days and for shorter distances, however, I am happy to use a walking stick. When I feel unwell – for example when I am totally overstimulated – my dog helps me a lot. I also have fidget toys with me all the time in case an overload is lurking. And the most important thing of course: my service dog! Even though he is only in training.
What would you like to see from society and your fellow people in dealing with people with disabilities?
Antonia Feistenauer: Definitely less prejudices! :-) In addition, I simply wish for more openness, acceptance, respect and above all – very important – more equality! Just because I'm disabled doesn't mean I am less worth as a human being.
Which assistive device would urgently need to be invented and/or improved?
Antonia Feistenauer: A button on the back of my head, which sometimes mitigates the stimulus filter weakness. ;-) But great would be a wheelchair that is adjustable in width – for people who often gain and / or lose a lot of weight or so that you simply do not need a new one directly when you gain / lose weight.
What has been your biggest challenge so far that you have mastered – and what has helped you to do so?
Antonia Feistenauer: To be honest: self-acceptance.
It's only in the last few years that I've learned that I'm perfectly fine. That autism is not a bad thing and that I have absolutely no shame in having a disability/illness. It was a long way there and I even had to leave some contacts behind. Today, I want to educate about such issues to counter prejudice and to encourage others who may still have this journey ahead of them. My biggest help was my husband. By simply accepting and loving me as I am and helping me to figure myself out and accept myself.
What can the assistive technology industry learn from the Corona pandemic to make life easier and/or better for people with disabilities in the future?
Antonia Feistenauer: That accessibility is still a huge problem. Keeping a distance, for example, is hardly possible when a stranger has to hold open a door or generally help. It is also visible again that many buildings are simply not accessible by wheelchair, such as many vaccination and testing centers.
If nothing would be impossible: Who would you like to meet one day and why?
Antonia Feistenauer: Stephen Hawking, because we have/had similar views and he was an incredible genius. He is a real idol for me and his work fascinates me totally. It was through him that I first discovered how exciting physics actually is. And Raúl Krauthausen – because he's just a cool guy!
What was your best REHACARE experience?
Antonia Feistenauer: Unfortunately, I have never been there – but hopefully once, as soon as it is possible!
What else I wanted to say ...
Antonia Feistenauer: To everyone who still has this journey ahead of them, I would like to say: You are good the way you are and just as valuable as everyone else.