Last year I wrote about the things I wish I could tell my younger self. I can’t go back and talk to little me, but I can talk to you. Here are a few things that I want you to know regarding me and cerebral palsy:
1. It is OK to be curious.
I don’t mind if you ask me questions about cerebral palsy (CP), even if you are a complete stranger. The question I get asked the most usually goes something like, “What’s wrong with your leg?” or “Why do you walk like that?” I’m perfectly happy to take a few minutes to explain. Please, ask questions.
2. I don’t mind if you offer assistance, but don’t treat me as if I’m less of a person.
There are times when I will need help. That’s just a fact. Maybe it will be taking someone’s arm crossing a rough area of ground so I don’t slip. Or perhaps it’s someone helping me carry something so I have a free hand to grasp the railing on the stairs. Don’t be afraid to offer assistance. If I need help, I will gladly take it. However, please do not speak or decide for me. That’s just a fact. It’s going to happen. I’m used to it, so don’t be too mortified.A while ago, my boyfriend and I went on a hike.
4. I don’t have all the answers.
Even though I’ve lived with cerebral palsy my entire life, I still learn new things about my diagnosis all the time. And as I get older, I’m going to do the best I can to take care of myself so I can get around as well as I do now. But living with disability is definitely a learning process.
5. I have dreams, too.
I’ve said it before: I am not defined by my cerebral palsy. I definitely want to make an impact on others with CP, but I also want to get married someday, have a family and be a published writer. I’ve never let disability stop me before, and I’m not going to start now.