Cerebral Palsy means I rely on other people every day. Imagine hiring a perfect stranger to help you get dressed, showered, and use the restroom. For many disabled people like me, this is a reality of their lives.
My body feels like it is on public display for therapists, doctors, and PCAs to do whatever they please as long as they deem it to be helpful by their standards. In many cases, when someone who I am working with makes me uncomfortable, I feel helpless.
I have worked with many professionals over the years. I have had wonderful PTs, doctors, PCAs, teachers and paraprofessionals. Growing up, it often felt like I spent more time with adults than with my peers.
Much of the time, I wanted to fit in with my peers at school. I wanted to play sports, go to sleepovers and be invited to parties. Many teenagers aren’t worrying about where an accessible bathroom is or if there is an elevator available somewhere.
I remember the jealousy I felt when my peers began to get their driver’s licenses when I was a sophomore in high school. I wanted to be like everyone else. However, as more and more of my peers began to drive, I noticed something.
Whenever they would talk about having to drive their younger siblings around or do errands for their household, they acted like it was an inconvenience. I never understood this. I wanted to be able to drive my sibling around if they needed to go somewhere. I wouldn’t have minded running errands for my parents.
I also wanted to get a part time job to start saving for college, and help pay for household expenses. At 23 years old I’ve never had a job. It is hard for me to see my younger sibling working part-time. I should be able to find work, and it is frustrating that I can’t.
As an adult, I’ve felt even more isolated. I’ve often felt like a burden to my friends and family because of my Cerebral Palsy. Sometimes, I feel like my disability creates more work for others. Because of this, I feel like I don’t do enough for other people.
The ways that I express love and care for people might not be the way most people do, but it does not mean that my expressions of love are any less important or valued. I enjoy buying gifts for other people, and seeing the joy on their faces when they open them.
Disabled people are worthy of love and deserve to feel cherished and valued. Living with Cerebral Palsy is a challenge every single day, but I still have gifts, and talents to share with the world.