Galen Spiegler | Photo provided by Spiegler
Galen Spiegler, an alum of Wright State University (WSU), has spent his time after college advocating for disability and recently wrote a book giving insight into the lifestyle of a disabled person.
Spiegler, who lives in Keene, N.H., was born with cerebral palsy, a condition that affects how his brain and muscles communicate.
College life and career goals
Spiegler graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from WSU in 2016 and works to assist those in the same position.
“Growing up, I had about ten doctors who were worried about my physical body but not one professional who would help me cope with the mental side of having a disability, so all through high school, I suffered with anxiety and depression, and I was like ‘why is there not more help for people with disabilities who have mental health issues?’,” said Spiegler through his aide Abby Shenk. “I want to be that person.”
Spiegler was informed about the university by a friend and attended school there due to its accessibility.
“Wright State is actually in the top five colleges in the country for disability accessibility. They have a program where students can work for the college and help people with disabilities get up and eat and do their personal care,” said Spiegler. “Also, the infrastructure they have really caught my eye, like the underground tunnels. I really hate the cold.”
Spiegler wants to use his degree to be a rehab psychologist, helping disabled individuals who struggle with mental health issues. Spiegler is a disability awareness specialist, which involves writing and educating people about life as a disabled person.
Problems, questions and solutions
Spiegler spent time traveling and giving presentations to students while he was in college.
“People without disabilities have some great questions, and I love listening to them and helping to bring [the students] into the crip world,” said Spiegler.
Soon, Spiegler will be moving to Cincinnati to enroll in graduate school.
One of the problems that he sees with how the disabled community is treated became evident when he went to a party during college.
“I would roll up to a party and people would be like ‘where’s your mommy?’, and I tried to explain that I’m in college. My mom lives 500 miles away, but they would never understand, so the police would be called and by that point, I would think that it wasn’t worth it and go home. It was very isolating,” said Spiegler.
According to Spiegler, people need to be more educated on disabilities so that individuals like himself can have a nightlife. Another problem he sees has to do with how the aides of these individuals are treated.
“We have a big problem all over the country where I need Abby to wake me up but the government only pays her minimum wage,” said Spiegler. “She can get more money at McDonald’s than with me, and if she quits, I am out of luck.”
Spiegler mentioned that these aides should be paid more so that individuals like him can have that assistance.
“It is a crisis that nobody sees,” said Spiegler.
A new book of insight
Spiegler’s book “The Ability Almanac: 365 Tidbits of Crip Wisdom in Bite-Sized Pieces” was published on Dec. 22 and features daily readings that give insight into living with a disability.
“The Ability Almanac” was inspired by his time at WSU. Spiegler was in a therapy group for students with disabilities and, wanting to spread the wisdom he acquired with that group, started a blog. He found it difficult to write about a new topic every day with no structure and felt that the book format would work better.
He hopes to educate everyone, whether they are disabled or able-bodied, about what it is like to live with a disability.
“I want society to understand that crips have the same wants and needs as everyone else,” said Spiegler. “I basically want to shine a light on the parts of disability life that people don’t understand.”
Spiegler’s book can be purchased here.