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I truly believe that everyone has some disability and shouldn’t let it get in the way of their dreams. There are disabilities that are visible and others that aren’t. Because of my dystonia, I have trouble using my arms to do certain things. I can’t carry some things, write or do certain sports. Sometimes I get embarrassed in school when I drop something or my arms twitch uncontrollably.

My friend, Max, made me feel so much better one day when he said to me that at least I wasn’t short. He said that being short isn’t something you can hide from the world, nor can you control it. It creates many difficulties in life, but you just need to deal with them and move on. He’s right. Everyone has an issue; we just don’t always “see” it.

I think disabilities affect the people who do not have the disability as much as, if not more, than the person with the disability. For example, people are so surprised when I try to shake their hands or go to write something down. They may jump or gasp with the unique way I must do these things. In addition to their embarrassment, they are usually afraid to ask me why my arms do that.

When that happens, I decide to use the opportunity to educate them about dystonia. I welcome opportunities where I can use my own disability to help other people understand that a disability is only in your own attitude and how you choose to deal with it. For me, my dystonia enables me to help all types of people to be more comfortable and knowledgeable about any type of disability.

I know that the world will continue to throw problems at me and I also know that it does the same to everyone. I believe that the best thing to do is accept challenges and try to figure out ways to work around the problems rather than avoiding them. Some problems will disappear, but many will just get worse if you don’t face them head on and overcome them. I am grateful to the people who support me and in turn, I want to help others that need support.

I do believe that you can do anything if you can set your mind to it and believe in yourself – even if it’s not the traditional way of doing it or you have to go the extra mile for it. If you really want to do something, go after it and keep your head high, because you will only succeed if you believe you can. I refuse to let dystonia or any other obstacle get in my way. I’ll never look down and I hope to lift other people’s attitudes regardless of their disability as I move on in life.

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Diagnosed at age 7 with a neurological disorder called focal dystonia, Zak Weinstein is now 13 years old and a successful 8th grade student. Because of his dystonia, Zak has difficulty controlling his arms and must take significant medication three times each day and undergo painful quarterly injections to help him manage this genetically inherited condition.

Determined not to let this be a disability, in 2012, together with his mother, Zak co-authored the book, Never Look Down. The book aims to help kids and families dealing with dystonia by providing them with important resources and kid-friendly explanations of the often debilitating and unknown disease. Underwritten by the Dystonia Medical Research Foundation (DMRF), Zak’s book is being distributed to qualifying families at no cost. He also volunteers as a DMRF spokesperson and friend to other kids dealing with dystonia in need of inspiration and support.

Working around and conquering his disability, Zak is a competitive tennis player, he plays trombone in his school’s wind ensemble, and he is an avid video gamer. Zak lives outside of Boston with his 9 year old brother Ben, and his best friend, Georgie, an eccentric rescue mutt

This Post Has 6 Comments

  1. Zak, you are truly an inspiration! With your wonderful attitude about life, you will go very far. You have already made tracks. It is so true about believing in yourself and believing that you can succeed no matter what the circumstances. I am a stroke survivor and fellow IMT luminary. I have two mantra: “Believe in yourself and watch the miracle unfold” and “I am on a magic carpet ride with Spirit at the helm”. Keep on doing what you are doing. You are a gift to the world!

  2. Zak, touching story and article. And so very true. What wise words for a young boy; we all have much we can learn from you. Keep shining, beautiful star <3 THANK YOU for sharing this.

  3. Zak, way to go! This is a great post and very helpful. I love your distinction about disabilities embarrassing or causing more confusion for the people without them than with them. That is HUGE! Thank you for your gift of advocating for people with disabilities of all kinds. You are a gem! God bless you and your family.

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