Matthew Savage portrait

Written by Matthew Savage

Former international school Principal, proud father of two transgender adult children, Associate Consultant with LSC Education, and founder of #themonalisaeffect.

“My own heart let me more have pity on; let

Me live to my sad self hereafter kind,


(Gerard Manley Hopkins)

In many ways, I have enjoyed my return to face-to-face consultancy, and to the buzz, warmth and joy of human interaction. However, I have also realised something else: on Zoom, I was not disabled. On Zoom, I could still walk and run, swim and cycle. On Zoom, I did not need my wheelchair, crutches or mobility scooter to move around. On Zoom, nobody would have known I was any different.

In recent months, I have been to restaurants with friends and colleagues, and I have developed an interesting habit. As soon as I am seated, I ask that my scooter and crutches are taken away out of my view and the view of others. I do the same when I am speaking to an audience too. Somehow, I seem to think that, if my disability is hidden from view, it will no longer exist.

When I first became ill, the talk was all of diagnosis and recovery. Medics were optimistic, and friends and family still asked that I “stay positive”. However, with time, the medics started to lose hope, and friends and family, not knowing what to say, chose, instead, to say nothing. It feels increasingly like my present has become my future, the two intertwined.

Although often relentless and ablaze, my pain is silent: mixing medication and mind muscle, I try to ensure that nobody knows. Similarly, I have managed to mask my encroaching stammer so far, although I know I will start to lose that battle soon. But people see my inability to walk before they see me; and, therefore, try as I might, it cannot be hidden.

This has presented me with a problem. As my disability becomes my body, I cannot be ashamed of one without being ashamed of the other too. Like many who have survived childhood trauma, I have a lot of shame, but I have realised that I cannot be ashamed of my disability. And that, as long as it is a guest in my house, I must welcome and embrace it as myself and, in so doing, love it too.

#DisabilityAwareness #DisabilityPride