World Cerebral Palsy Awareness Day Thoughts
Today is World Cerebral Palsy Awareness Day. If you all read my article on disabilities on The Mighty Facebook page titled “ How Hope Has Helped Me Defy the Odds as a Person with Cerebral Palsy," you might have realized that talking about my condition has been tough because growing up, I just wanted to be treated the same way as everyone else. Although I am more open about sharing my story now, it took a lot of courage to do this tonight. I want people to be aware of how Cerebral Palsy has shaped me as a person and how I should be treated by society, but I did not know how to send that message until I read an article from one of The Mighty staff members titled “Six Truths People with Cerebral Palsy want you to know on Cerebral Palsy Awareness Day.”
The introduction paragraph started three statements that sparked my interest. Date, hire and talk to someone with Cerebral Palsy. The article goes on to state that we are people with special stories to tell as long as society will listen. Let me add that we are ordinary people with special stories to tell. I have a special story to tell, but that does not mean I need special treatment or discrimination because of my condition. It just means I add a perspective to situations that others cannot. I have seen two, maybe even three sides to the statements I mentioned earlier. People have spoken to me as if I am a baby, they completely ignore me or stare at me because they believe that my condition makes me less capable of what other people are. Please don’t be afraid of me or test my intelligence. Get to know me just as you would anyone else.
People have also spoken so highly of me because they realize that I go above and beyond the expectations people have set for me. I graduated high school and college as a teen and drive while doctors told my mother that I would most likely not make it past my hospital stay, and if I did, I would be a vegetable and dependent on people for the rest of my life.
Next, comes dating a person with Cerebral Palsy. Questions I get all the time are: Will you only date a person in a wheelchair? How will you be intimate or have kids? Will you be single for the rest of your life? Do you accept any relationship because they do not come around to you as often as other people have them? I have the capability of having a relationship just like anyone else. It is up to the Lord who my partner is and when he comes into my life. I do not believe I will be single forever or not have the ability to have children. I just have backed off on those topics because I am still young and am figuring myself out. Just as many of you are. I believe I was given a relationship with someone who had Cerebral Palsy so that I knew that there were other people out there that I could relate to. I write and am working towards a Communication Studies degree so that I can share my story and be that support system for them. Will I always date someone in a wheelchair? Maybe, Maybe not. Will an able-bodied person always date an able-bodied person? There is a slim chance.
My job situation so far. Starting out, I was discriminated against. Employers said that I couldn’t be a cashier or hostess because my chair and disability made me unable to fit behind the counter. Mind you; the managers didn’t even give me the chance to interview properly and see the type of person I was. Over the years, I have realized that, although people have the same condition, it does not mean that people are affected the same way; this is one of the main reasons it is important not to assume what others are capable of.
Lastly, the managers have told me to get a desk job. Funny thing is I would be behind the counter taking orders and payments at this potential job just as often as I would be behind a desk at another job. After the incidents of discrimination in the workplace, I was able to get two teaching jobs on my own (no help from disabled job agencies.) One of my bosses was so impressed with me and my character that I was offered a promotion during the interview. Please remember the disabled community is full of ordinary people with a special stories to tell. As a matter of fact, we all have a story to tell that makes us stand out from everyone else. Don’t be afraid to share your story. You may help or inspire those around you. Please don’t be friends with someone just because they are disabled. Please don’t be a friend to them because of that reason. We are people just like you who deserve true love and acceptance for who we are.