When I was 2 and half, I got meningitis. My mother was told that I wouldn’t be able to walk or talk, that I would end up in a wheelchair. I’m able to walk without a problem and can talk fine. I have a mild learning disability. I went to a special school in Co. Limerick. While I was there, I had speech therapy. When I was 19, I moved up to Dublin in September ’92. I had more speech therapy in Trinity College in 1994/95 for about six months to a year, and again in November 2001 for about a month. The teacher I had working with me was called Clothra Ni Cholmain.
I do get annoyed and so angry with people. The way they look at people with any kind of disability. A lot of people look only at the disability and not beyond it. They never see the person and the way they can live, work, get married like everybody else. Yes, some people with a disability may need care. But does that mean they are not to be loved?
I wrote a poem called “I’m a Real Person”. The reason that I wrote this poem was because I am a real person who is well able to look after themselves. From a young age I love to write but always struggled with reading, spelling, and grammar!
My name is Mick Casey and I live in Bray, Co. Wicklow with my dog Milo. I wrote my first poem “The Snowman” at the age of 17 and it came easy to me. From that moment I wanted to be a writer. It threw up many challenges for me, but I have found with hard work, it really pays off!
I find computers are very useful and they are improving every day. As a person with a mild learning disability, it’s important that I can understand what I read, and most importantly what I write! When I write poetry, a story, or an article, I use a tool on my laptop called Read Aloud. By hearing what I write, it allows me to edit and check for spelling mistakes and grammar. Also, when I write assignments and the tutor sends back any feedback, I can use the Read Aloud tool. By using it, I can understand it better.
Writing always came easy to me, but putting the words on paper was hard, and looking up a spelling in a dictionary was harder. Now in my late 40s, writing still comes easy, and putting the words on paper is no longer hard. Each time I write something, let it be one word, one sentence or a whole page, it’s wonderful! My passion for writing was great and I know that one day, I would be a great writer! It’s my voice, my thoughts, my love of words. To allow another person to proofread your work, it’s not a sign of weakness!
When I’m inspired, words are coming out my ears. When I look in the mirror, the words shine. When I was going to school, I could read but not well. When I picked up a picture book, my imagination would go wild. I would have loved to be able to write, but it was hard.
It was an uphill struggle, and a big mountain with a very bare (barren?) meadow. My life was a rollercoaster, with demons in my head to deal with. At times, I wonder how I survived at all. It was a journey, and it was hard to stop; with nobody to guard me, it was harder! I was a prisoner in a castle and was surrounded by demons!
When Clothra ask me to give a presentation about People with Disabilities to 4th year students on their final year in 2004, I wasn’t going to do it, but looking back now I’m very happy that I did! I was asked back in 2005 to give another presentation and I was happy to do it!
I’m also an editor of a newsletter called Creative Writers that I started in 2007 and it’s doing well!
I’m a Real Person
I’m somebody with a disability, but a person first.
A person who had a voice, which nobody understood.
The person behind this mask, found it hard to communicate.
Knowing what I wanted to say, but nobody would listen.
Hid behind this disability, which was only a label!
I am a real person; nobody took the time to see!
I used to be ashamed of my disability!
It’s a part of me, and it’s who I am!
(c) Mick Casey 2024