I’ve written before about this lovely thing that some people with Cerebral Palsy struggle with called a startle reflex (or technically called a moro reflex). While I can’t provide any tried and true tips or tricks for keeping startling at bay I can tell you what makes mine go nuts.
You know those food service pager things that light up and buzz when your table is available or your food is ready to be picked up?
They may look something like this:
If I’m out with someone else I’ll insist that they put it in their lap, on top of a jacket, or on the seat next to them.
Because those little buggers put my nervous system into overdrive, and it can take days, yes days, to recover from it.
If I’m out by myself, I usually put it next to me on the chair I’m sitting in or under my leg. It sounds counterintuitive to put it under my leg but this is one of those instances when having diminished sensation really does help. They vibrate hard enough that I can feel it (unlike a cell phone) but it’s not jumping around on a table, which then makes me all jumpy.
I also try and avoid establishments that use those types of pagers but it’s a trickier thing to do than one would think.
People, friends and family included, will often make fun of me for my little quirks and things I obsess over but few people understand that it’s the “little” things in life that make living with Cerebral Palsy more difficult, and sometimes just flat out miserable, not the “bigger” things.
The ADA takes care of a lot of the “bigger” things and what it doesn’t we’ve usually learned to compensate. It’s the “little” things that catch you by surprise.
So next time you’re with someone with CP and they ask you to do them a favor please do it (without the wisecracks, comments, or questions). You’ll make the day more pleasant for them, and probably yourself too.