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What I'm Thankful for as a Person With Cerebral Palsy

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Thanksgiving brings up many memories and feelings.  Many think about family, friends, traditions and food when Thanksgiving rolls around. Feeling gratitude for what we have can keep us optimistic in a complex world. Although having cerebral palsy could lead someone to complain and concentrate on all the things missing in their lives, I believe we have many reasons to be thankful.

I am thankful for improved medical knowledge and advances. Medical conditions have improved immensely for babies who have disabilities. A hundred years ago, babies who were born with disabilities often died due to lack of medical technology and knowledge. Now babies and young children can get physical, speech and occupational therapy to help improve their quality of life. The medical outlook for people who have disabilities is looking bright and beautiful compared with years ago.

I am thankful for amazing technology and assistive devices that are improving on a daily basis. Technology can be absolutely amazing for anyone who has a disability, but especially those with cerebral palsy. Cerebral palsy can affect fine and gross motor skills in our hands and limbs. Without these motor skills, it can be difficult to write, talk, walk and do other daily living activities. But now we can use an e-reader even if turning the pages of a printed book is impossible. Tablets help us write, communicate, bank, shop, work, socialize and do many other activities very easily. Computers and laptops have also came a long way in assisting independence.

I am thankful for how far education has come for those with cerebral palsy. Instead of being pushed into one classroom or the back of a class, children with cerebral palsy are included as early as preschool. Colleges are much more open to admitting students with disabilities. Teachers are better educated in helping students with disabilities and finding better ways to teach. Students are more open to accepting friends with disabilities. Even school sport teams and student organizations are more inclusive of differences.

I am thankful employment is becoming more accessible to those with cerebral palsy. There are more jobs available to us both online and offline. Unfortunately, the job market still has plenty of work to do, but on the whole, getting a job or starting your own business has become more obtainable.

I am thankful for motorized wheelchairs that can be customized for our needs. My motorized wheelchair allows me to be comfortable and independent. I’m thankful for personal care services that allow me and many others live healthy, independent and dignifying lives. I am thankful to be married and have children, because having a family wasn’t always easy to achieve with cerebral palsy. I am thankful for my friends and family who support and love me despite my challenges.

The next time your spasms are out of control or someone is giving you a difficult time about your speech, try to think of everything to give thanks for. Those with cerebral palsy who lived hundreds of years ago would love to have what we have now. So smile, focus and continue to live your dreams.

This article was originally published on Cerebral Palsy News Today.

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Originally published: November 29, 2016
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