Having a disability such as Cerebral Palsy means that I need help daily. My PCA helps me with tasks such as toileting, showering, and preparing meals. While I am grateful for my PCAs, needing help can be difficult sometimes.
In particular, needing somebody’s help with personal hygiene is difficult. I’ve needed help with activities of daily living ever since I was a child. As I grew up, this became harder. As a teenager especially, this was challenging. I was going through puberty just like my peers. Can you imagine hiring someone to help you bathe and use the restroom? This is a reality for many people with physical disabilities. I have to allow people to help me with highly personal tasks. It never gets easier to have someone shower you. Every time I hire a new PCA, I always feel uncomfortable initially. I am used to this by now.
Requiring PCA services doesn’t mean that I am incapable of making my own decisions. I need my PCAs to be flexible and understand my needs. Cerebral Palsy doesn’t affect my ability to make decisions. If I ask to go to the grocery store, I would like my PCA to bring me there. My PCAs don’t control what I buy at the grocery store.
I’ve had PCAs in the past who have tried to make decisions for me. I even had a PCA who questioned my lunch at college. This isn’t their job. My independence is important to me. I want to control how things are done in my life. Personal care assistants are meant to help me live an independent lifestyle.
Because I was born with Cerebral Palsy, I’ll always need help with daily activities. However, I still consider myself an independent person. Independence to me means having control over how you live everyday life. Cerebral Palsy doesn’t take away my independence. CP just makes independence look different.