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Cerebral Palsy Message Board

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Hi Michelle,

I'm a 23 year old male with "mild" CP (I know that's not an not the adjective of choice around here but I'll use it anyway) :) I have spastic diplegia and use 2 canes to walk.

Reading through these posts has sparked my intrest as to the sheer number of so called "mildly disabled" individuals who experience emotional issues that often out-weigh their disability itself. Growing up with CP, a huge amount of focus is spent working on the physical aspects of your disability, mostly becase physical improvements are much easier to gage and assess than your emotional health and well being. I see this only in retrospect but never realized it growing up. I was too preoccupied with ignoring my disability to fit into this so-called normal classification.

No doubt, all this effort spent on being normal is emotionally draining.. What is normal anyway? If you define normal using strict rules then essentially you turn every day of your life into a mission to abide by these rules.

Looking back, I now realize that I spent a lot of my time and energy in high school and college doing exactly that... For the most part the result of this is negative as it only makes you more self-concious of your disability and does a number on your self-confidence. I know I've missed out on a few perspective dates in college because of this. (same of these would have been easy catches too.) :)

My advise to you (and hopefully some of the parents reading this as well) is do acknowledge your disability. Encourage people to ask questions when the time is right. Doing so will build positive, genuine friendships and relationships.

Most importantly, never get caught-up in this notion of being normal.. Too much "normallity" in the world makes it a real boring place. As well, don't associate every emotional setback with the fact that you have CP. Unfortunately we can't change the fact that we do have a disability but we most certainly can change our outlook on life.

To the parents out there.. It's important that you let your kid be all that he or she can be. Don't be over-protective.. While I know this can be tough, it does pay off.. Kids who aren't sheltered have a much better chance of growing up to be emotionally mature adults. My parents did a good job of this and I do commend them for it.

Sorry about the long post.. hope it helps. :)

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