8. Cerebral palsy is often misrepresented by the media.
CP is a highly misunderstood medical condition, largely due to the media’s descriptions of the condition. It is often incorrectly characterized as a “disease,” presumed to be genetic, or reported as a progressive condition. In addition, those with CP are frequently described as “victims” or “sufferers,” though the vast majority of people with CP live fulfilling, happy lives.
9. There is still a heavy social stigma surrounding CP.
Due to the pervasive misconceptions surrounding CP, some people with the condition may be reluctant to disclose their disability or share their experiences with others out of fear of being misunderstood or stereotyped. They may also attempt to conceal certain symptoms. Some people with less visible CP go to great lengths to hide the condition. Understanding CP can reduce the stigma and stereotypes surrounding the condition.
10. People with CP are not required to educate the able-bodied population.
Oftentimes, those living with visible CP receive personal questions in public regarding “what happened” to them, why they use particular assistive devices or how they accomplish certain tasks. Although some people with CP are willing to answer politely-worded questions, it is not their responsibility to educate others about the condition, and they have the right to decline to answer intrusive questions. It is crucial to understand that no one is entitled to be educated in a public setting or to receive a stranger’s medical history.
11. People with CP can be independent.
From a young age, many people with CP learn adaptive skills to maximize their independence later in life. Although some people with cerebral require high levels of assistance, many people with CP can drive or transport themselves independently, live independently, and support themselves financially.
12. Those living with CP can experience the same life milestones as the able-bodied population.
People with CP attend and graduate from college and graduate school, establish fulfilling careers in a wide variety of fields, date, marry, own homes, start families and care for their children — just like the able-bodied population.
13. People with CP enjoy a wide variety of activities.
CP does not prevent those who have it from enjoying a variety of activities. People with CP are writers, performers, hikers, techies, crafters and collectors. They play sports, compete on debate teams, volunteer their time and hold leadership positions in their schools and communities.
14. People living with CP are not “heroic” or “inspirational” for living their lives.
People with CP are frequently deemed “heroic” or “inspirational” for engaging in everyday tasks or for simply existing. Although those who use such terms are generally well-meaning, their words evoke pity, as they are based on the misguided assumption that living with CP is unfortunate and tragic. On the contrary, people with CP live full lives, and many take pride in their CP and the unique perspective it provides. Those with CP, therefore, are neither heroic nor inspirational — unless they do something that truly merits being placed on a pedestal.
15. People with CP are capable.
Each person with CP has a variety of skills and talents. Some are athletic, musical or creative. Others are scientifically-minded, entrepreneurial, linguistically talented, or emotionally intelligent. No matter what skills or talents they may possess, all people with CP are capable and have immense potential to succeed in life.
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Written by: Kelly Douglas Originally appeared on: The Mighty Republished with permission