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Michelle Kemp: Dealing with a Sudden Disability as a Young Adult

Spotlighting Avon High School senior mastery projects.

Name: Michelle Kemp, Class of 2011 graduate

Senior Mastery Project: What happens when a young adult is suddenly diagnosed with a disability? How does it affect them? How do they cope? Through her research, Kemp learned how the onset of a sudden disability affects youth and what can be done to help them deal with the diagnosis so they can move forward and lead happy, fulfilling lives.

Why she chose this topic: "I discovered last year that I had a sudden disability. It was more on a personal basis that I picked it, but I also want to start teaching people about disabilities such as mine so that people can learn more about them and grow more of an understanding," Kemp, who was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia and Dysautonomia last year, told Patch.

How is she coping with her diagnosis?: "I pretty much just try to live a normal teenager life. I like to go out with my friends. I like to spend time with my family. I just try to live life as normally as possible," Kemp said.

A Disturbing Discovery: While researching her topic, she was surprised to learn how cruelly people with disabilities were treated in the past. During World War II, people with disabilities or illnesses were among the first to be killed.

Fun Facts: Kemp works at a barn, giving horseback riding lessons. She plays six instruments: guitar, bass guitar, clarinet, bass clarinet, drums and piano. While attending school, she was involved with the Animal Welfare Club, which raises money for local animal shelters and helps non-profit organization, Horse of Connecticut, find loving homes for adopted horses who were previously abused.

Summer Plans: She will spend her summer working at the barn and relaxing. 

Editor's Note: Hey, Avon Class of 2011 graduating seniors! Do you want your senior master project featured on Avon Patch? E-mail the information to Jessie.Sawyer@patch.com, along with a photo of you and your project. Parents, you can submit on behalf of your children as well. We will be spotlighting one senior mastery project a day, Mondays through Fridays, throughout the entire summer.

Jared Ranere June 23, 2011 at 07:19 PM
What are Fibromyalgia and Dysautonomia?
Jessie Sawyer (Editor) June 23, 2011 at 08:46 PM
Jared, Here are some resources. Fibromyalgia: http://fmaware.org/site/PageServerded3.html?pagename=fibromyalgia Dysautonomia: http://www.ndrf.org/ Jessie Sawyer Editor, Avon Patch
Bette Meredith June 24, 2011 at 02:31 AM
There is also a Dysautonomia website. Just google Dysautonomia. It has all the information, symptoms and how to lead as normal a life as possible. Bette Meredith (Michelle's Grandmother)
Colleen Finnegan June 24, 2011 at 11:29 PM
Response from Michelle Kemp: Whenever someone asks me more about dysautonomia and fibromyalgia, I tell them both are very complicated and doctors are still confused about them as well. To put it as simply as possible, dysautonomia is a disorder where the autonomic nervous system does not work correctly and the signals to and from the brain and other body systems are not sent correctly. All the unconscious functions in my body (for example my heart beat, blood circulation, breathing, and digestion) do not work normally because of these mixed up signals. A great website to visit for more information is www.dynakids.org. Fibromyalgia is a complex disorder where the nervous system basically “overreacts” and it leads to horrible chronic pain, sleep problems, severe fatigue, and a lot of stress. The best website for more information on fibromyalgia is www.fmaware.org, the National Fibromyalgia Association website. There has been some strong evidence that the two disorders are linked together—it is thought that the stress on the body caused by the dysautonomia can make a person more likely to also develop fibromyalgia. Looking back in my life, there were some signs that something wasn’t right, but the symptoms could always be attributed to normal “growing pains” or adolescence. It wasn’t until after I had a very bad concussion followed by a horrible virus then continued difficulty over the last couple of years that my doctor realized there was something more going on.
Jessie Sawyer (Editor) June 25, 2011 at 02:58 AM
Thank you, Colleen and Michelle for further elaborating. Jessie Sawyer Editor, Avon Patch

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