Until I had a child with Cerebral Palsy (CP), I didn’t know what exactly it was and that there were several types.
Some can walk independently, or with aid, and some move around with a wheelchair. Some have spasticity in their upper and or lower limbs, too. Some have intellectual challenges and some became doctors, lawyers and even beauty queens.
Nine and a half years after my daughter’s diagnosis, I am now more aware and have better way of handling pity stares and comments from strangers we meet.
I never highlighted my daughter’s condition when I introduce her to people. I talk about what she can do and her daily life at home.
She is funny even at an early age. She gives smart one-liner rebuttals. Especially at her age now, she can make you laugh so hard you’ll hurt your tummy. Her positive spirit will uplift yours. She’ll be the first one to ask “are you ok?“. She’ll even ask you if you have money for food and offer what she have.
At home, she likes to do a lot of things. She collects stickers and likes to be read books. She is a pro at technology (iPad). She discovers features in messaging apps and filters her selfies nicely. As a matter of fact, in Facebook Messenger App, there were times we had to go to her room to figure out how she added stickers on photos.
She is an artist.
She likes to bike every afternoon, rain or shine around our village. Our neighbors, I know even if they don’t say, admires her grit.
She does yoga with me and reminds us to work or go to the gym, more often than we like.
At school, she was voted as the “happiest kid” in her class. She has many friends, from classmates to Manong Security Guard. The tricycle drivers outside the PT place we used to go to also remembers her, she tagged them by numbers – Manong #1, Manong #2, which they find adorable. She is also very helpful and generous to her friends.
These qualities of her are unknown at first impression. So when new people meet her, they will be confused, sympathetic in a wrong way (although I know it’s from ignorance), or express their pity.
It reached to a point when my daughter would complain that she can’t walk. Because that’s what she heard from other people. Self-pity is never tolerated. So at some point, I had to talk to family, relatives, friends on how they should talk to my daughter. Of course I stumbled with close-minded people and I was ok with that. I don’t mind being hated, or dubbed as whatever they dub me of.
Since March is Cerebral Palsy Awareness month, I want you to be aware.
I want you to be aware that people with CP have the same drives as every person have .
They like to make friends.
To enjoy time with the people they love.
To do something they love.
To learn and explore new things.
And to just live their lives.
Where we live, and even the entire country, has very low awareness that a disability is just a part of one person and not a definition of who they are.
They are pitied and looked down upon as if they have contagious diseases.
They are excluded in many institutions.
They don’t get a fair chance to compete for employment or education (of course there are very few institutions that do otherwise).
It is my dream to spread this awareness, not only for people with CP but to all who have other conditions, so the society can see their potential and empower them. Because like everyone else, they too deserve to live a full life.
If there are things I am eager to be a result of this post, these are:
- that you change how you once viewed and perceived disability (not only CP);
- that you treat my daughter like how you would treat any other children;
- and that you spread the awareness even more people,
If you do, others will follow. And what you and I have done is to spread true awareness.