Having been born with a condition like CP has meant that I have needed to be exposed to the medical world from as far back as I remember. I have received physical therapy on a regular basis ever since I have been little. I have heard myself spoken about in medical terms ever since I was little. Sometimes, it was hard to see myself as a human being. I knew what a goniometer was by the time I was around four. I knew that it was used to measure the range of motion in my joints.
Cerebral Palsy also meant that I spent much of my time around adults when I was growing up. I had an aide with me at school to help me with activities of daily living and schoolwork. I was used to hearing adult conversations when I was at school. In order to make sure that I was around my peers, there was an emphasis put on my ability to make friends. I know there was no ill intent in this, but I think it did me more harm than good. The older I was the harder it became to fit in with my peers. In middle and high school, I felt isolated and left behind. When I was a sophomore in high school, I remember the jealousy I felt towards my peers who could get their driver’s licenses and work part time. I wanted to be just like everyone else.
This led me to becoming more introverted than I already was. By the age of 18, I’d all but given up on making new friends. I’ve learned not to let myself get too close to people, and it’s harder than ever for me to make connections with people.
I want parents of disabled children to remember that their children are children first regardless of disability. Let your disabled children play outside and try new things. I enjoyed playing in the snow and going swimming when I was little. Teachers and other support staff should treat disabled children just like any other child. Include all children in as many activities as you can.