Tyler Roope is a 25 year old TikTok star, who blends comedy and education while advocating on behalf of the disability community. He lives with spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) type 2, which severely limits his voluntary muscle movement. Tyler is considered a strong type 2 since he is able to move his arms and legs a small amount. In contrast, type 3 patients have more mobility and may be able to walk, while type 1 patients usually do not survive past their second birthday.
In this episode of the Major Pain podcast, Tyler discusses what it was like growing up with SMA. His best friends in elementary school (who remain friends to this day) were extremely supportive and inclusive, making special rules so Tyler could participate in sports. He would eventually go to UCLA where he double majored in political science and sociology, and is extremely grateful for the aides who helped him live on campus. He was never bullied for his disability or for using a wheelchair in school. In fact, his first bullying experiences happened through TikTok after his content went viral online.
Since SMA affects Tyler’s entire body, he relies on assistive technology like a cough machine to keep him as healthy as possible. Without being able to use his muscles, they continue to atrophy over time. The scientific community has been developing medication for this disease, and Tyler is currently taking some that seems to be slowing muscle atrophy. Tyler is an avid gamer, telling us about the importance of accessibility features in video games, and the types of games that work best with his disability. He is deeply grateful for his incredible family and friends who support his needs, and for the community that supports his popular TikTok channel.
Tyler is currently raising funds for a new accessible van! Check out the GoFundMe here: https://www.gofundme.com/f/help-tyler-get-an-accessible-van
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