Disabled Writers is a resource to help editors connect with disabled writers and journalists, and journalists connect with disabled sources. Our goal is specifically to promote paid opportunities for multiply marginalized members of the disability community, and to encourage editors and journalists to think of disabled people for stories that stretch beyond disability issues. 

 

Whitney Lee Geertsen

Image: In my picture I am hugging a tree. I have short golden brown hair wrapped up in a pink bandanna. I am wearing sunglasses and a pink shirt. 

Contact Whitney: wlgeertsen at gmail.com 

I am an autistic twenty-four-year-old woman. Two years ago, I pictured myself as wildlife educator. Then my goals unraveled along with my health. I grieved the path I lost. Embers of memory sparked within and I remembered as a child I always had another dream.

I dreamed of being a writer. I had two overriding passions as a child, science and literature. I was enthusiastic about animals. I used what I learned about animals and wilderness to create elaborate stories in my head. I would weave stories, poems, and put together booklets about animals. As school got harder I became increasingly frustrated with literature. The answers felt more like I was mindreading the teachers than making my own interpretations.

Ultimately, my love for the wilderness is what drove me to choose science over writing. I could taste graduation. I needed to finish up my capstone project to graduate from Weber State University in Ogden, UT. I majored in their interdisciplinary program. I chose to incorporate zoology, botany, and recreation.

At that point my body began to break inside. I had to abandon my capstone project due the slow suffocation of allergies. I was studying butterfly diversity. I became allergic to Arthropods (insects, crustaceans, arachnids, etc.). I dropped out of school to figure things out. Next came endless pain and chronic dizziness. I was later diagnosed with Fibromyalgia. Chronic coughing and increased sensitivity to synthetic chemicals led to a diagnosis of hypersensitivity pneumonitis. All this on top of dealing with a myriad of mental health nightmares.

Navigating healthcare and getting close to aging out of my parent’s health insurance sparked the fire of change. I started my blog about how my health challenges influence the way I see the world. I started Autistic Observations to advocate for autism, mental illness, and chronic illness. I am working on attending school. I plan to change my recreation emphasis to communications. My goal is to intertwine my interests in autism advocacy and wildlife to share novel insights on autism and mental health. I joined this platform so that I can gain further opportunities as I change career paths from wildlife education to freelance journalism. 

You can find Whitney at her website

Whitney is available as a source and for personal essays

Additional communication availability: Text, chat

Languages: English

Debra Guckenheimer, PhD

Debra Guckenheimer, PhD

Eva Roethler

Eva Roethler