I’ve started this post about half a dozen times. It doesn’t happen to me a lot, at best I reorganize but this is one of the few blank slates. Most of my CP related posts I don’t come up with on my own. They usually start with a tweet, a post, an email by someone else, or a conversation with someone.
Rather than do a full on post explaining every detail I can think of about one CP related topic I wanted to get real, as in the real me living with CP. This may hurt a little, just so you know.
* I use my wheelchair more often than I probably should. Sometimes I just find it to be more socially acceptable. I also like being able to board planes first & having active duty service members follow me, especially Marines (although I dislike when they call me ma’am).
* It’s easier to explain why you use a wheelchair than explain why you walk funny.
* I have CP. I don’t suffer from it. The only thing I suffer from is misunderstanding, misjudgment, and plain old idiocy……..of other people.
* Not everything a person with CP does should be labeled inspirational. “Milestones” like getting your license or graduating from high school (and at this point even college), getting a job should be considered expectations.
* We are no one’s hero just for being average. Average is the goal. Leave it at that.
* “The R word” doesn’t bother everyone (like myself). However it does bother a whole lot of other people so just take it off the table, along with every other word that makes people with disabilities look bad.
* Just because someone has a disability doesn’t mean they don’t have loads of abilities in which you lack. Think about that.
* It is in fact possible to take advantage of having a disability (see my first point). I don’t do it often. I feel its “bad for business,” so to speak, to do so, but that doesn’t stop me. Every membership must have some benefits after all.
* It’s typical to be asked questions (and/or stared at), even a few that are completely asinine, but it can get annoying. Most people don’t mind answering them, please be thoughtful, and don’t get mad if someone doesn’t want to answer your question(s). The internet is great for finding answers, if you haven’t heard about it.
* People with CP are individuals first, just like the “average” person. Therefore we do not all have the same job, living situation, or social circles. Suggesting a desk job for someone simply based on your perception of their limitations is like giving someone a life sentence for a lesser crime (bad analogy, I know, go with it).
* CP is one of the most common childhood disabilities; therefore it’s pretty common for adults too. A small group of people know this; it can feel like a smaller group of people actually care.
* It’s amazing how common CP is, yet how little people actually know about it.
* The last thing someone with CP wants to do when suffering with a non CP related health crisis is explain to everyone what CP is. Treat the crisis then have an educational moment.
* Sometimes I avoid situations because of the social pressure to be a role model when I just want to be myself.
* I’m a person first, please treat me like one.
* It’s possible to forget you have CP with nothing to compare it to you’re constantly living in a normal all your own. Sometimes it takes passing a mirror for my brain to actually get it so for low maintenance girls (like myself) I can go days without really seeing myself in a physical sense.
* Not everyone is into adaptive sports (or other activities). That’s O.K.
* Few people with CP have friends with CP. I have friends with other disabilities/medical conditions but they were not sought out. They came into my life. Some became fantastic friends, others I’ve wished well and gone on my way.
*A similar version of this post was written on October 2, 2012