…Rather, it was the doctors that delivered me, the NICU, and I am sure, certain members of our society who defined and assumed who I would be, along with my capabilities. I was born two and a half months premature in October of 1983. The doctors told my parents to “prepare for the worst” as they did not think that I would survive my first 24 hours of being born. And even if I did survive, I would not be able to walk, talk, think for myself, and grow up to be a “regular” adult. Except for the walking part, and a few hiccups in regards to learning, I seemed to have achieved a lot of the other milestones!
Cerebral Palsy is just the diagnosis! Of course, CP limits certain functions and parts of the brain from performing regular movement and physical actions of the human body, that we should otherwise be able to do freely without a second thought. However, we should not let the diagnosis of Cerebral Palsy define who we will be, or who your children will be. Even if CP is the diagnosis.
Our society has come a long way in regard to how people with disabilities are being treated and viewed. (For a crash course, Google, “Disability History Timeline.”) When I learn something new about disability history and how someone like me, with spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy might have been treated prior to the 1970s, I am always thankful that I was born during the time I was born, and I thank God for the family I was born into. How they accepted, loved and surrounded me after my birth!
With that being said, I believe that there still needs to be a change in how our world sees children and adults with disabilities, especially Cerebral Palsy. It is absolutely important that you discuss your diagnosis of cerebral palsy with your doctors / medical team, especially for parents. You are your child’s best advocate! Listen to all the possible outcomes, prognosis, and possible treatments to manage cerebral palsy. Sometimes, there might be a cloudy picture painted by medical professionals, therapists, your child’s education team, and possibly even friends or family; who may just be trying to give advice on what they think you, or your child’s best outcome will be. Sit back and listen. At the end of the day, take everything that has been mentioned, assumed, about you, or your child with CP, and do not make any assumptions for yourself, or your child with cerebral palsy, whatever CP type the diagnosis is!
I believe (especially in the medical community), instead of saying “your child will not be able to…”, we leave out the possible limitations or assumptions altogether. Do not assume limitations on what you can do as a person living with Cerebral Palsy, your child, or what your patient can do, just because of the particular CP diagnosis. The medical term should not automatically cap what abilities any individual can accomplish!
Never let your diagnosis define who you are!