Thursday, December 19, 2013

To Parents of Children With Cerebral Palsy

Dear parents of children with cerebral palsy:

Your child with CP may not ever walk.

They may not ever talk.

And that's okay.  Because your child will be able to:

  • Communicate in whatever way they can
  • Move around their environment in whatever way is best for them (which may change at times)
  • Learn many things, both inside and outside the classroom
  • Appreciate the smaller victories in life
  • Develop a unique personality and identity, just like any other child
  • Whine, complain and cry, just like any other child
  • Have a mind that thinks, just like anyone else
  • Find friends that enjoy their company, whether disabled or not
  • Love deeply and express that love in some fashion

And if you play your cards right, they might just gain the most important ability of all:  the ability to accept themselves precisely as they are.  But that won't happen unless you, too, accept them.  Cerebral palsy, like it or not, is a part of your child's being, part of their fundamental makeup.  Your child would not be your child without CP.  There is no cure, no procedure, that will neatly strip away the disability from your child - they are intertwined.  Behavior is learned.  Your child will follow your example in this, as in many things.  If you accept and embrace cerebral palsy as part of the rich mosaic that makes your child your child, they will follow suit.  And someday, when they do have insecurities about the way they are, they will know that they can come to you and you will tell them that is okay to be different.  

Your child may not ever find pride in their being, but this is one area where your help makes all the difference.  Please, parents, I am appealing to you now, to help your child overcome shame, overcome discrimination, and instill acceptance and pride.  They will thank you for it someday.  I promise.


An Adult with Cerebral Palsy

Who Used to Be a Child with Cerebral Palsy

Who Thanks Her Parents For Accepting Her Just the Way She Is


Martina said...

I wanted to write a post like this. You beat me to it. Do you do think the web has room for two such posts. I hope so, because now I want to finish mine.

Elizabeth J. (Ibby) Grace said...

I think the web has room and needs for as many such posts as people have time and spoons to write. Love, Ib

Margot said...

One of my adult friends who has CP had a mother that had a harder time accepting her CP(probably partly do to guilt because the brain injury happened during birth in her case)Too bad she could not read this back then. My family has always fully accepted me in every single way. I was adopted so they knew I was disabled from the beginning. They didn't care. I'm just me. Every parent with a new cerebral palsy diagnosis for their child should read this. This post can also apply to autism,Down Syndrome and many other disabilities. A person is a person disability or not.

chavisory said...

I want to tell this at parents of autistic kids who lecture me that their kid will "never talk. never go to prom. never go to college. never get married."

Yeah, you might be right; they really might never do those things. But those things aren't the only or the most important benchmarks of a life worth living.

When you make it all about something like that, YOU are making your kid's life a tragedy over that thing. There's no reason it has to be.

Unknown said...

Do you have any specific advice on how to teach my girl to accept and love herself. I personally think she's super great, and I try to tell her so, but we live in a society with narrow ideas about what beauty and success are. I myself have a disability, and I tend to hide my lower legs and feet because they are rather unique looking. I know that our kids tend to learn what we do rather than what we say, so I'm worrying that I'm teaching her the insecurity that I grew up with.

Love Dexter said...

Just found this post. Well done, it's beautiful. We're hoping Dexter is growing up knowing he has severe cerebral palsy, but knowing more about the love he exudes and the things he can do. He's a cheeky little kid and we love that about him. Big cheer to your parents - they must have loved and supported you! xx