Navigating My First Day of College With Cerebral Palsy


Waking up on the first day of college at the end of January last year, my stomach was a complete ball of butterflies. I was rushing around my room pulling clothes out to put on, putting on makeup and getting my shoes. I had spent the past week getting my books and buying school supplies. The night before, I spent the evening putting binders, notebooks and textbooks in my backpack. I assembled my pencil case. The last thing I grabbed was my computer. I was ready… I thought.

I got to school and saw it was minimally paved from the snow storm a few days earlier. Knowing my balance was already altered by my heavy backpack, I took a deep breath and carefully took off for my first class of the day. I went to class, began to put my things away and realized that I could no longer get my tight left arm into the backpack strap. I didn’t have time to let my arm go in slowly. I had to meet with my professor about accommodations for the semester.

The rest of the day was filled with navigating the campus, my second class and meetings, all while lugging my 25-pound backpack on one shoulder. At the end of the day, my back and knees were killing me. Only the right side of my body had been supporting my backpack, while all the rest of my muscles had been trying to make sure I could walk without falling. Finally, I was home and could recover for the next day.

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Thinkstock image by Seb Ra.

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