Having just celebrated the 4th of July yesterday, it was a tough day for many people who have cerebral palsy, myself included. Due to my cerebral palsy, I have a heightened state reflex. This is called the Moro reflex. This is a reflex that all babies are born with. However, for me, this reflex never went away. Any sudden noises can make me jump, and my heart race.
Growing up, I always dreaded fire drills in school. I was always told ahead of time if we were to have a fire drill that day. Even if somebody warned me ahead of time, it didn’t take away my body’s primitive reaction to the loud sound. No matter what, I always felt unnerved by the sound of a fire alarm.
I have never been a big fan of horror or war movies for this exact reason. The unexpected sounds can leave me feeling anxious and, in some cases, can even make my spasticity which is a condition where my muscles are tight and stiff all the time, much worse. My body tends to tense up when I am nervous anyway, which doesn’t help when your muscles are already tight and tense.
I have always loved the colorful displays of fireworks that are part of many Independence Day celebrations. I enjoy seeing the different colors and shapes of fireworks. I know that professional displays cost a ton of money, and they are beautiful. I enjoy the colors of the fireworks, but because of my cerebral palsy, it’s always a challenging time of year for me.
The loud, unexpected sounds accompanying these displays send my nervous system into overdrive. For this reason, Independence Day is a day that can leave me feeling on edge more. So, if I politely decline an invitation to see fireworks, please don’t take it personally. It is not that I don’t want to spend time with my family or friends; it is just that firework displays can prove challenging for me.