By Shannon Lane @shannonroselane
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Videographer / director: Adam Gray
Producer: Shannon Lane, Ruby Coote
Editor: Rubina Pabani
An interabled couple want to show that they ‘can do anything that other couples can do’ and ‘just want to be treated as everybody else.’
Corrine Szatkowski, 20, is training to be a nurse and is healthy and able-bodied, whilst Tyler French, also 22, has severe spinal muscular atrophy, which makes muscles very weak and causes problems with movement.
The couple have been together for four years and want to straighten out the misconceptions surrounding interabled couples.
Tyler and Corinne met in 2012 on an online game.
Corinne told Barcroft TV: “We first met on IMVU which is online video game and we were friends for about three years maybe a little more.”
After six months of constantly talking each other online and on the phone, the long-distance friends finally decided to meet at a restaurant in Tyler’s home town in Michigan.
Tyler said: “The first time I thought when I saw Corinne was thank god I didn’t get catfished and oh my god she is so beautiful.”
Corinne added: “I didn’t care what he looked like, you know about the wheelchair, it was just like this is the man that I have been talking to and I am so glad to be here in person.”
The couple now live together in Reeders, Pennsylvania.
Tyler has arthrogryposis multiplex congenita, a form of muscular dystrophy which causes issues with his joints and muscles.
The couple have been together four years, and Corinne is now a full time carer for her fiancé.
Tyler said: “I think that the biggest misconception is that there aren’t any interabled relationships, that they just can’t happen.
“That it is impossible for someone to separate the nurse side of things from the love side of things.”
Corinne added: “Another common misconception that we received a couple of comments about is that we aren’t intimate as a couple.
“Just because you are in a wheelchair it doesn’t mean that you cannot be intimate with your partner.
“We are intimate, we can do anything that other couples can do with some limitations.”
Corinne and Tyler have faced a lot of judgement in their relationship, especially when they go out together.
Corinne said: “A lot of times we got out to restaurants or we go to public places and people will ask questions. But when we also go out places and people [they] just don’t even acknowledge that he is even there and they just look at me.”
The couple recently got engaged, and are hoping to get married in 2020.
When engagement announcements are usually filled with warm messages, the couple received many harsh comments on a Facebook post.
Corinne said: “Tyler’s mom uploaded a picture of the two of us after an engagement party to Facebook and we started getting lot of comments on it, most of them it started all good and then it started turning into harassing.”
Tyler added: “Things like you know he’s obviously mentally disabled, he’s obviously unable to speak.”
Corinne said: “I was really upset about the whole thing and wanted him to get involved with it with me you know you shouldn’t be saying that about people you have no idea who they are you literally just saw a picture on Facebook and that’s it.”
Unfortunately even the Corinne’s family struggled to understand their relationship at first.
She said: “So at first my family was you know, they didn’t really care when it got into how I take care of him. They were like ‘oh, well like why do you want to do that?’ And my answer was always – because I love him. And it didn’t really get too bad until we got engaged initially.
“A majority of the reaction was – ‘oh, you know you are going to have to take care of him for the rest of the life.’
“Of course I know that. I wouldn’t have said yes if I wasn’t confident in what I am doing.
“Before we got engaged because they didn’t really know him, but now that they know him and how he treats me and our dynamic, it's a completely different story. They support us 100 percent. They love him. He is awesome. So I am glad that it turned out the way that it did.”
Tyler added: “There was a time where we were basically getting hate from all the sides, her family wasn’t excited that we were engaged, my family wasn’t excited that we were moving and it was hard. But now they see that she can take care of me and I am as healthy as I have ever been
“Don’t judge a book by its cover, don’t judge us, don’t say she’s my mother, don’t judge me.
“Don’t say I can’t think or I can’t speak, do your best to keep your businesses open to everyone, we really just want to be treated as everybody else.”