From the outside, CP might seem like a disability that just affects my legs. Cerebral Palsy was the result of a lack of oxygen to my brain during birth. I was premature too. According to The American Academy Of Pediatrics, the chance of developing Cerebral Palsy is high in kids born very prematurely; occurrence ranges between 7% and 20%.
Cerebral Palsy, however, affects much more than my legs. I struggle with fine and gross motor skills. For example, I cannot tie my shoes, and I cannot unscrew a lid. I cannot stand independently for more than about a minute or two. Due to my disability, I have poor visual perception and spatial skills. I have never excelled at mathematics. Reading charts and graphs is especially challenging for me. My brain has difficulty deciphering the data. This made mathematics my least favorite subject when I was growing up. I also tend to have trouble navigating open spaces like a grocery store, because I get lost easily.
For me, one of the more frustrating aspects of Cerebral Palsy is something called the Moro Reflex. This is a reflex that all babies are born with. However, for me and many others with CP, this reflex never went away. Any sudden noises can make me jump, and my heart race. I have a strong dislike of firecrackers, fire alarms, and horror movies because of this. It is why I will never attend a screening of Paranormal Activity or be a pyrotechnic expert.
Cerebral Palsy is much more than a physical disability. It affects every aspect of my life. CP influences my career goals, hobbies, and personal relationships, among other things. Realizing this took years, but now that I know that CP affects more than just my legs, I can adjust my ambitions and wishes accordingly.
Hafström, Maria, et al. “Cerebral Palsy in Extremely Preterm Infants.” American Academy of Pediatrics, American Academy of Pediatrics, 1 Jan. 2018, pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/141/1/e20171433.