Tasmanian artist, author Janelle McMillan on her everyday battle to be understood

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Tasmanian artist, author Janelle McMillan on her everyday battle to be understood

I live in two different worlds.

One of respect, acceptance and understanding when I am behind safe walls at home, but the other is filled with misunderstanding, judgement, disrespect, ignorance and sometimes downright rudeness out there in our community.

I am fighting a war every day to get people to see who I really am and stop the discrimination, just because a large number of people want to stick their heads in the sand.

I am smart. I’ve been awarded an Order of Australia and I love raising money for charity. I have even published a children’s book.

I also have been made to feel like a child, talked down to, patted on the head like a dog and made to feel invisible, like Harry Potter under his invisibility cloak.

A close-up of Janelle McMillan's legs
Janelle McMillan says people often talk to the person with her rather than directly to her.(ABC News: Maren Preuss)

I have cerebral palsy (CP), which for me means I have trouble talking and my body movements are jerky and uncontrolled.

It is really like living with an annoying little brother 24/7, but I don’t get a break from his tricks or pranks being played on my body. He never gives up annoying me.

Living in Tasmania, I am one of the 1.2 million Australians that have a communication disability — I have complex communication challenges every day of my life.

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