Woman help others see invisible disabilities in new way

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Tucked in the corner of a coffee shop, Meghan Beggs sips her gingerbread latte. It's loud, crowded and busy. Those sipping their coffees and teas continue their conversations effortlessly. Lost in computers and cellphones, trying to be heard above the noise of those around them. It's different for Beggs.

This is out of her comfort zone — the people, the noise, the interactions. Yet, in that corner of the Roots Brew Shop, today she is comfortable, cozy and confident. With her community living support worker, who happens to be her cousin and best friend, sitting next to her, Beggs is concise in what she has to say. 

"I’m an advocate for a lot of people with different types of disabilities. I talk a lot about my disability to try and bring more awareness to it," Beggs said.

Beggs lives with 22q-deletion syndrome, the most common genetic disorder next to Down syndrome. 

"Unfortunately many people don’t know about it and I think the reason why is because it’s more of an invisible disability," Beggs says. "You can’t really tell that I have a disability when you look at me, but it comes with a lot of different struggles."

She is 22 and says she needs to be driven places because she doesn't have a license. She needs help cleaning, shopping and cooking. And in loud, crowded places, like Roots, her anxiety can become a crippling way of life. But she has found a way around it through writing and her CLS worker, Carly Van Duinen.

"Sometimes I’m just kind of there as a companion and a friend and just be along and calm your nerves a little," Van Duinen says, talking to Beggs. "But sometimes also you’re like, I can do this on my own, I got this."

This is not work for Van Duinen, Beggs is not a client. They are friends and that is evident as they go back and forth with each other telling the other what the relationship they've built means to them. 

They have created a calming power for each other, one now that they hope to share with others.

View the full story on Wood TV

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