*Some websites are telling me this is the 5th October every year, others are saying 6th. I will be observing it on both days by eating copious amounts of chocolate*
Hey everyone, happy World Cerebral Palsy Day!
I wasn’t going to bother writing a blog in honour of this special day because I don’t want to get too repetitive (okay I know that ship has sailed but I did write a blog on it last year), but when I read last year’s (god-awful) blog entry I realised that I’d written it on the assumption that all of you actually knew what Cerebral Palsy was. For those of you who don’t know me, Cerebral Palsy is what puts the ‘wobbly’ into wobbly-yummy-mummy. There’s a wealth of information about the disability around the interweb, but why would you bother with that when I, an actual person with CP (and therefore an expert) can teach you everything you need to know?
- Cerebral (brain) Palsy (paralysis) is caused by a lack of oxygen or a head trauma either shortly before, during or shortly after birth. Which is a bit of a pain when you think about it, because your brain controls everything your body does. So, for example, when your non-CP brain says ‘Pick up that cup,’ your hand grabs the handle and voila. Whereas a CPer could do anything from grabbing the cup to going into spasm and hurling it across the table. It’s this unpredictability that makes life that little bit more interesting.
- It’s estimated that people with Cerebral Palsy use at least twice the amount of energy ‘normies’ use basic things (the perfect excuse, in my opinion, to laze around with chocolate in the evenings). As I’m typing this right now, my involuntary movements are in overdrive: my head is bobbing, my legs are moving – neither body part are needed for the act of typing.
- Also, every person with CP uses their body in different ways. Unfortunately this can accelerate wear and tear, but there’s sweet FA we can do about it. For example, I’m unsteady on my feet but I find that if I do things on my knees I can do a better job at things like hoovering and folding laundry. I often get swollen knees, something I never got in my teens (I also did my homework at my bed, on my knees). I also fall a lot on my knees. My poor auld knees. I also know people who type with their tongues, elbows and feet a la Christy Brown. We are resourceful folk.
- Cerebral Palsy is characterised by the presence of many things, including unsteady gait, speech impairment, involuntary movements, poor coordination and so on. But in my experience, it doesn’t affect any two people in the exact same way. I’ve yet to meet a fellow CPer whose impairment is an exact mirror image of mine. A few people may have moderate to severe intellectual impairments, but this is not always the case. A speech impairment is not an indicator of poor intelligence.
- One thing that I’ve learned about CP that you won’t find on Wikipedia is that some of us (as in myself and at least five other CPers I know) are prone to bouts of uncontrollable giggling. Which on the whole is hilarious but also completely involuntary. If I had been any other student in my sixth year English class I would’ve been suspended for my ‘disruptive’ behaviour in class. My CP friend had similar experiences in college where her giggling disrupted whole lectures and frequently set off waves of giggling in lectures.
- The following point is not only related to people with Cerebral Palsy but to all people with disabilities: cinematic depictions of people with CP should be portrayed by disabled actors and not Hollywood names ‘cripping up’ for roles. I mean, would you find it acceptable for somebody to paint themselves a lovely brown colour for a role? No, you’d call it racist, and rightly so! I bring up this point after meeting an actor with CP a couple of weeks ago who, for obvious reasons, only gets called to fill the roles of disabled characters. It seems that ‘cripping up’ for roles has now become normalised (look at Me Before You: a disabled character has the lead role, but is played by a non-disabled actor.) It’s not as if there’s a plethora of work out there for disabled actors, so let us represent ‘our people’ when we can!
- Finally, people with CP are just that – people. Some are nice, some are assholes. Most importantly, we are definitely not inspirational purely in the act of having CP. In fact, comedienne and writer Francesca Martinez (who, if you look her up on YouTube, will tell you even more interesting gaffes about having CP) renounces the label of ‘inspirational’ by saying she spends eleven hours a day in bed (lucky sod). We are not all the same, and don’t they say that variety is the spice of life?!
Phew, that’s a reasonably long blog. I’m exhausted from my involuntary workout. Off to eat chocolate. For energy purposes, of course.