Today is World Cerebral Palsy Day. I have lived with CP my entire life. After 23 years, I’ve learned to make the best of it. Physical symptoms are perhaps the most manageable element of my condition. When I have increasing spasticity in my lower limbs, stretching, physical therapy and Botox injections can help me move around more comfortably. I’ve learned how to deal with the physical pain of Cerebral Palsy.
I shouldn’t fear applying for employment because of my CP, but I do. Non-disabled people are three times more likely to be employed than disabled people In the past year, 19.1% of Americans with disabilities were employed.
Discrimination is frustrating to me. I want people to know that I want to work and am capable of doing so. I’m 23 years old and have never held a paying job. I have been rejected by Walmart, Target, Trader Joe’s, and Stop and Shop, among many other employers. Merely the mention of my disability makes employers uninterested in hiring me.
I’ll never get used to the isolation and loneliness of being disabled. The physical discomfort pales in comparison to the loneliness and emotional pain I’ve experienced. Growing up, I was bullied in school. The older I was, the more isolated I felt. Last year, a friend stopped talking to me and misled me into believing that a friend no longer liked me. This hurt deeply.
Fortunately, I’ve been blessed with a wonderful family. My entire life, I have been surrounded by loving people. My parents, sister, cousins, aunts, and uncles have always been there for me. I try my best not to take my family for granted because I know many people don’t have loving and supportive families.
At the same time, my condition has introduced me to excellent doctors, physical therapists, and direct caregivers. It’s a blessing that I have a team of people that want to support me. I also like connecting with other individuals with CP through social media. Connecting with other disabled individuals reminds me that I am not alone in the world.
Cerebral Palsy has caused me to question my worth and my life’s purpose. I realize with time that everyone is worthy. Everyone is valuable and has something to offer the world.
Roberts, Lily, et al. “Removing Obstacles for Disabled Workers Would Strengthen the U.S. Labor Market.” Center for American Progress, Center for American Progress, 23 May 2022, https://www.americanprogress.org/article/removing-obstacles-for-disabled-workers-would-strengthen-the-u-s-labor-market/.