Despite challenges, these disabled Latinxs lead rich lives

A Latino child pushes his father in a wheelchair./heller.brandeis.edu

Tania Azevedo is a proud disabled Latina, even though her identity makes her more susceptible to social injustice. She says living with impaired muscle coordination caused by cerebral palsy is a challenge, but teaches her about life and her capabilities. 

The Mexican-Portuguese American is an English as a Second Language tutor, and a classroom assistant in San Diego, California. In her free time, she enjoys being with her family, often doing cultural activities. While her family has adapted to her needs, she has faced issues with society at large, including access to accommodations at school functions, mistreatment at previous jobs and dealing with how she is perceived. 

Photo courtesy of Rocio De Mateo Smith

Tania recognizes that society has come a long way, but still needs to evolve in terms of inclusion and true acceptance. Other disabled Latinxs feel the same way but, like Tania, refuse to allow ableism stop them from living enriching lives. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that 26% of adults in the U.S. have some form of disability in the areas of mobility, cognition, independent living, hearing, vision and self-care. 

An autism spectrum illustration by Shannon Wright./NPR.

While Tania is employed, about 80% of disabled adults don’t have a job. More worrisome is that disabled people of color are more vulnerable to the consequences of ableism. Black and Latinx children are often overlooked when it comes to diagnosing autism. They get a diagnosis later in life, which means less chance for proper intervention and treatment. Despite the additional challenges, many Latinxs with disabilities are getting the help they need and living enriching, full lives.

It’s time for Latinxs to talk about depression

Scrabble pieces spell out mental health.
Mental health Scrabble./Credit: CC0 Public Domain

Depression can happen to anyone, anywhere, and at anytime. For Honduran immigrant Marco Antonio Muñoz death by suicide was a response to the emptiness and hopelessness he felt when his wife and child were ripped away from him.

Woman with long black hair and pink blouse. She is crying with tissue in hand.
Sad female./shutterstock

The 39-year-old father took his own life while held in a Texas detention facility weeks after the Trump administration launched a harsh crackdown of unauthorized crossings at the U.S.-Mexico border. Antonio was so desperate, that he chose to face death rather than a life without his family.

Sad Hispanic woman sitting at edge of bed
Sad Latinx female./The Huffington Post

Suicide impacts Latinxs of all ages, identities and backgrounds. For some of our men, mental health can be compounded due to cultural attitudes that dictate los hombres no lloran, and discourages them from expressing stress, depression or emotions. 

Studies show that:

*Poor communication and taking action seeking help can keep some Latinxs from recovering from mental illness.

*Few Latinxs with a depressive episode seek help, partially due to lack of health insurance and Latinx health professionals. 

*Depression among Latinas is higher, at 46%, than Latinos, with 19.6%.

Animated Gif of woman saying "You're not alone."

There is no shame in living with mental illness. keep an eye on warning signs for when a loved one needs medical attention, and help them seek the treatment they need.