One Step At A Time: Buttoning Up

My dad and I.

Michael Reiner


Last semester at Kent State University, my Tuesdays started very early in the morning.

My alarm went off promptly at 5:30 a.m. I would groan angrily after it would go off because 5:30 is too early for me to get up out of my extremely comfortable bed. I’d stay in bed for another 30 minutes until 6:00 a.m. and then it would be time for me to start the day.

I was the Tuesday morning sports anchor for our television station on campus: TV2. I would have to be at the station at 7:30 a.m. so that I would have enough time to write my stories and get everything ready for the news broadcast.

 I would get a shower after I woke up. This shower would usually last around 20 to 25 minutes so that I could be fully alert and awake.

The next part of my routine definitely took me an extra 15 minutes. Putting on dress clothes has been very difficult for me over the years. When I was growing up, my family and I tried to avoid dress clothes as much as possible. There was no way that I could avoid them this time around because wearing dress clothes is simply part of the job.

The most difficult part about putting on dress clothes was definitely buttoning the dress shirt. I never had to ‘dress myself to the nines’ before, so the first few mornings were frustrating. My cerebral palsy (CP) affects my fine motor skills, so buttoning buttons is a challenge. Thankfully, my brother Mitchell would come help me every morning with my buttons and my tie. 

I could never thank him enough for his kindness and understanding. After all, I understood that Mitchell wouldn’t get up that early regularly even if someone paid him thousands of dollars. Luckily, he got up to help me for free. It’s safe to say that I owe him a few Raising Cane’s chicken boxes.

I believe that repetition results in mastery. Therefore, I was able to master putting my dress clothes on as the weeks went by. Putting on my dress pants became second nature to me and  my dress shoes fit like a glove. I am happy that TV2 requires me to wear dress clothes because this helps me be more professional, clean-cut, and confident.

I worked really hard in the sports department last spring and my hard work has paid off. This semester I will be Thursday evening sports anchor for TV2. This means that I don’t have to get up as early to put on dress clothes anymore. I have spent a lot of time in the sports department, but it feels good knowing that I have worked hard in this aspect of my life as well.

If you are a person with disabilities who struggles with putting on dress clothes, I want you to know that you can do it. My story about this is proof that anything is possible as long as you work hard at it. I would not have been able to do this today if I didn’t practice it constantly.

CP is a disability that varies, so I understand that some people with my condition might have more struggles than me. All you have to do is find a way and you will be able to make it happen. My mom and I knew that I would always struggle with tying ties because of my lack of coordination. Therefore, we found ties that tighten when you pull them down so that you don’t have to tie them.

My experience with putting on dress clothes has definitely helped me grow as a person. I could never thank my family enough for all the help that they give me with this. My struggle and eventual success with this definitely proves that practice does make perfect.


My first newscast is tonight and I can’t wait to look like a sharp dressed man. I will be on TV2 every Thursday night at 6PM on Please tune in!

Michael Reiner is a columnist. Contact him at [email protected].