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Mothers of Misfits
39: Overcoming Negative Labels | Nathan Todd

39: Overcoming Negative Labels | Nathan Todd

special needs Nov 24, 2020

Nathan was born with Cerebral Palsy and turned his adversity into his advantage. He shares with Emily how negative labels often lead to loneliness. He wants everyone to know that labels DON’T define us. And when we have no labels, we have no limits.


  • “Even though I talk about peeling back labels, I do understand that labels can provide a sense of hope because when you don’t know what’s going on, and then you have someone that says, oh here’s what we think it is. I mean, that’s gotta be a huge sense of relief.” – Nathan Todd
  • “It’s funny when you have a disability, I think we become masters of overcompensation because if you look at my handwriting compared to my brother’s around the same period of time, my handwriting is way, way better. And it’s just because of that experience of being told that I wasn’t good enough.” – Nathan Todd
  • “Probably one of the few bright spots I had during that part of my school career was, somebody actually saw me for me and actually was just trying to figure out how to be there and hear what was going on. She wasn’t trying to fix anything, she was there to be there.” – Nathan Todd
  • “Actually listen to what’s going on with the student from the student’s perspective. And actually treat the experience as a valid experience.” – Nathan Todd
  • “I think we must normalize using the word disability and replacing that negative label that comes along with the word.” – Nathan Todd
  • “I think that’s what happens to each and every one of us when we’re labeled, our potential becomes somebody else’s limitation of us.” – Nathan Todd
  • “When we accept a label that someone else has put on us, that means that our potential has become their limitation of what they believe we’re capable of.” – Nathan Todd
  • “Just remember people, be patient, be diligent in whatever you do. Never, never quit.” – Nathan Todd


  • 1:07 – The beginning of life with cerebral palsy
  • 5:30 – Changing the rules
  • 7:17 – Elementary school
  • 10:40 – Un-enrolling from the public school system
  • 15:00 – Advice for parents considering different types of education
  • 16:31 – Disabilities in the workplace
  • 18:37 – Thoughts on the word “disability”
  • 20:10 – Labels
  • 22:19 – Navigating labels


Interested in completing the Label Exercise Nathan was talking about in the episode? Check out this short video and download the worksheet below to get started!


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