February 4, 2023

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Just look at her, not the chair

– I think I fell in love as soon as I met her. The only thing that surprised me was how small it was. She didn’t say that. And I only saw her in pictures and on a video call. But I saw Annette, not the wheelchair, says Kenneth the house.

Born with spina bifida, Annette has hydrocephalus, a buildup of cerebrospinal fluid in the brain cavity that causes increased pressure in the brain. Kenneth himself suffers from Asperger’s Syndrome. When they started chatting on Tinder, he was open about it right away.

– It’s important for both of us to give people a chance to delete us if they don’t want to connect. We don’t want to waste time on people who think our diagnosis is a problem,” Kenneth tells the Weekly.

But it’s been two years now. When they met on their first date at a Chinese restaurant in Bergen, the chemistry worked so well that they became lovers. Today, the couple is cohabiting.

It’s easy to forget she’s in a wheelchair. He told me I only saw Annette, not the chair.

Annette says she met Kenneth with an open mind. She didn’t want to judge him for the diagnosis.

– I work for the Norwegian Handikapforbund, where we do attitude creation work on a daily basis and work for complete equality in society, says Annette.

Annette has a job, a car and an apartment. But she still suffers from prejudice. Even though she was trained as an occupational therapist, getting a job couldn’t have been easier. She has been called in for an interview and then has to walk away when an employer sees her. Finally, an opportunity has opened up in the Norwegian Handikapforbund.

She believes that rejection in the job market and the fact that people often write people off with diagnoses is largely due to a lack of knowledge.

People should ask more when they are wondering about something. Encourage children to do so.

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