As someone with cerebral palsy, I am used to needing help daily. Despite this, I value my autonomy. Needing help with my activities of daily living doesn’t take away my ability to make my own decisions. To me, living independently does not necessarily mean doing everything on your own. I share an apartment with my roommate, who is also my PCA. My PCA assists me with everyday tasks such as bathing and cooking. These are more difficult for me to accomplish on my own. My PCA doesn’t make decisions for me; instead, he assists me when I need his help.
Moving into my apartment in August of 2020 has increased my independence significantly. I like picking what to eat for dinner and when to sleep for the night. One of my favorite aspects of my apartment is that I have a television in my room. Before going to bed, I usually watch a movie or a show. The fact that I can see people anytime I want is perhaps the most exciting thing about living alone. I no longer have to plan days ahead of time when I feel like inviting someone over or going out.
Assistive technology also allows me to be more independent in my environment. My iPhone and iPad enable me to access the world at my fingertips. I use my Amazon Echo to make grocery lists, and set reminders. I can refill my prescriptions, make my appointments, order household items, and communicate with my doctors without leaving my apartment because of technology. I also occasionally use grocery pick-up and delivery. Ordering groceries and other items on the internet helps me conserve energy.
Independence is a subjective concept that is personal, internal, and ever-changing. Even though I have cerebral palsy and require assistance, I still consider myself an independent person. Everyone’s definition of independence is different, but everyone deserves to live life on their own terms.