Cerebral Palsy isn’t something you ask for, you’re born with it. Growing up, I hated the word “disability”, and so did my parents. It’s not that I can’t do certain things, it’s that I do them differently. In my family, we like the term “differently abled”. I guess I could consider myself one of the lucky ones; my CP only affects me from the waist down. Others though, aren’t so lucky. Cerebral Palsy, from one person to the next, is as different as apples and oranges. It can affect a certain individual in so many different ways.
When I say I consider myself lucky, what I mean is this: I’m blessed enough to be able to take care of my daily needs on my own, hold a full time job, run a small business on the side, and manage a serious relationship. Don’t get me wrong, these things aren’t always easy, but I take pride in the fact that not only can I do them, but I also know when to ask for help. I am definitely comfortable in my own abilities, but I also know my limits, and that’s so important.
Having a great support system behind you is crucial to success & independence. Everyone around me; family, friends, coworkers and my boyfriend; are aware of what I can and can not handle and if someone isn’t sure, I know to speak up.
Relationships are challenging for anyone, but when you’re a person that has extra needs, finding a person who’s willing to take on the extra responsibility can be even more difficult. I find myself extremely fortunate that when I met my boyfriend, the last thing he saw was my disability. Right off the bat, he understood that I came with some fine print, but was willing to do whatever we needed in order to make a long term relationship work. Finding work & holding down a steady job can also be challenging, but nowadays it’s easier with laws against discrimination. But I’ve found that the most important aspect is being able to speak up for yourself and communicate with your leaders in order to be successful.
Moral of the story? Disabled, or differently abled, people should be treated just like everyone else. You shouldn’t base your opinions of what we can and cannot do based on physical appearance. Yes, life is a bit more challenging for us, but that doesn’t mean we can’t live it just as well as someone else.