Since today is the first day of Cerebral Palsy Awareness Month, I want to share my thoughts on having this disability.
Cerebral Palsy is a disability that I have lived with my whole life. Physical symptoms are perhaps the easiest aspect of my condition to deal with. Stretching, physical therapy, and Botox injections can help me move around more easily when I have increased spasticity in my lower limbs. I’ve learned to cope well with the physical pain of cerebral palsy.
I will never get used to the social isolation and loneliness that has come with having a disability, though. The physical pain pales in comparison to the isolation and emotional pain I’ve experienced. Physical pain has never led me to questioning my worth daily or wondering why I am here on Earth. Since the pandemic began, many people have felt isolated and lonely. For me, this feeling is nothing new.
At the same time, my disability has led to me meeting excellent doctors, physical therapists, and PCAs. I am fortunate to have a support team that tries to help me. I also enjoy using social media to connect with other people with CP. Connecting with other people who have disabilities makes me realize that I’m not alone in the world.
I shouldn’t fear applying for employment because of my CP, but I do. I’m 22-years old and have never held a paying job. I have been rejected by Stop & Shop, McDonald’s, and Wendy’s, among many other employers. Merely the mention of my disability makes employers uninterested in hiring me.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 19.1 percent of people with disabilities were working in 2021, up from 17.9 percent in 2020. By comparison, in 2021, 63.7 percent of people without disabilities were employed, up from 61.8 percent the previous year.
Cerebral Palsy has made me question my worth and made me wonder what my purpose in life is. I’m slowly discovering that everyone is deserving. We are all valuable and have something to contribute to the world.
“Persons with a Disability: Labor Force Characteristics Summary – 2021.” U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 24 Feb. 2022, https://www.bls.gov/news.release/disabl.nr0.htm.