Rachel Barcellona’s Story

 

Rachel BarcellonaI am an advocate for those with disabilities. I created my platform, The Ability beyond Disabilities, to inspire those who have challenges to strive for their dreams as well as to educate those who might not understand the challenges we face.

As an individual with Asperger’s syndrome – a form of autism, I often felt like I could not do anything. People with disabilities or anyone who is different are often targets for bullies as I was, but because of my life and social experience, I have overcome many challenges.

Today I am the International Spokesperson for the Center for Autism and Related Disabilities at the University of Florida (CARD-USF), and was recently elected to their executive board of directors.

I was also named the Ambassador for the Unicorn Children’s Foundation and work closely with this international organization to help people with neurodiversity.

I am a member of the International Thespian Honor Society, an honor student and vocalist and love to sing opera. I have been able to sing at Madison Square Gardens twice.

I have a passion for art and writing and am currently finishing my first book and will work to get it published when it’s finished.

I also work with several organizations that provide services to individuals with disabilities including therapy such as occupational and physical along with music and art therapy. I have made over 300 appearances with my international title.

My plan for the future is to graduate from the University of South Florida and one day open my own school for children with disabilities.

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I also wanted to share some of the things that happened while I was growing up. I recently turned 21 years old, but starting in preschool and elementary school things were much different. I was diagnosed with Autism along with Dyspraxia and later diagnosed with Dyscalculia and Epilepsy.

I can remember not being able to put enough pressure on a crayon to make a mark on a paper! Buttons, zippers and snaps were a nightmare! It was very difficult to hold objects and jump and skip. I went through several years of physical therapy, speech and language therapy and occupational therapy, which helped a lot. I still, however, cannot ride a bike (although I haven’t tried a 3 wheeler), and I am not able to drive. I passed my learners permit for driving but because of epilepsy and seizures I cannot get my license… yet! Hopefully one day, but, if not, there are several ways to learn to get around. I joke with my parents that I am waiting for the Google car that drives itself!

Dyscalculia became an issue as math became harder. I am not going to lie, it was exhausting getting through higher level math and took all the help I could get from teachers, tutors, etc. I am so happy to tell you I have finished my college math courses and will definitely not become an engineer.

I am pursuing a career in writing English and vocal studies and love to sing opera. I am honored to meet everyone here on this website!

Thank you for your friendship!

#abilitybeyonddisabilities

Rachel Barcellona