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Representation is important. For a child with a disability like cerebral palsy, seeing adults and other children living with the same condition is powerful, inspiring, and motivational. Children with cerebral palsy inevitably feel different from their peers, and the more they can see other people with similar symptoms, mobility issues, and emotional challenges, the better. Neither children nor adults with cerebral palsy have been well represented in popular culture, but this is changing.
Why Representation is Important
Cerebral palsy is one of the most common disabilities of childhood. It is incurable but not progressive, and even with treatments and therapies, children with this condition will become adults with cerebral palsy. The disabilities associated with cerebral palsy are mostly physical, which means they are noticeable. A child with the condition can feel very different, which may be isolating and emotionally damaging.
While inclusion, a strong family, and good friends can counteract these effects, it is also immensely beneficial to be able to see other people with similar disabilities. Seeing another person with cerebral palsy, facing some of the same challenges, on TV, in movies, and in books and magazines, can help a child feel less different, less alone, and more secure. Seeing these individuals doing all different kinds of things, succeeding in jobs or at school, is also empowering.
Show with Cerebral Palsy Character Coming to Netflix
An exciting new addition to popular culture for anyone with cerebral palsy or another disability is a show coming to Netflix. Produced by Jim Parsons, one of the stars of the “The Big Bang Theory,” is based on a memoir by TV writer Ryan O’Connell. The new series is set to be available to Netflix viewers in April of 2019. O’Connell is also a producer of the new show.
The show will be called “Special,” and will focus on a main character with cerebral palsy. It will be loosely based on O’Connell’s life, his struggles with disability, his embarrassment with being physically impaired, and his ambition and hard work to become a successful writer.
Comic Book Superhero with Cerebral Palsy
Another great character for children with cerebral palsy is Karmzah. Created by Ghanian artist and author Farida Bedwei, Karmzah lives with cerebral palsy but doesn’t let it stop her from battling bad guys in Africa. The character shows kids with disabilities that their limitations don’t have to hold them back. It is a great source of representation, not just for disabled children, but also for girls and minority children with disabilities.
Farida Bedwei created Karmzah because she believes in representation. She lives with cerebral palsy and has long been a disability rights activist. Bedwei didn’t just want to help children with the condition feel normal; she wanted to make them feel like superheroes. Karmzah walks with crutches, but she is still strong and helps others, a great role model for any child.
Representation is something that people without disabilities take for granted. Children with cerebral palsy may always feel different, but it doesn’t have to be bad to be special. More representation in popular culture, through real characters like the one on “Special” to superheroes like Karmzah, will help both children and adults feel good about who they are, disabilities and all.