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7 Things You Shouldn’t Say to Someone With Cerebral Palsy

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As someone who has lived with cerebral palsy my whole life, I have come across people who have said certain things about my condition they shouldn’t have said, but they do without giving it a second thought:

1. “You’re too pretty to be in that wheelchair.” I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been told this by strangers. Although they were trying to be nice, it just comes off as rude and an awful way to start a conversation.

2. “You’re so lucky you get to sit in a chair all day and have others do stuff for you.” My able-bodied classmates would tell me this throughout middle school and high school when in classes now this is one the worse things you could say to someone with Cerebral palsy because we don’t like having others to our daily task for us and our condition doesn’t bring us fortune.

3. “You could have done that so much better if you didn’t have cerebral palsy.” My elementary school art teacher would give us things to draw, but due to my cerebral palsy and lack of mobility in my left side, I would have a hard time drawing. My art teacher would say, “You could have done so much better if you didn’t have cerebral palsy.” Don’t say this to someone with cerebral palsy! It could lower the person’s self-esteem and confidence.

4. “I don’t mean to be rude, but what’s wrong with you?” This is by far the most offensive thing you could say to someone with cerebral palsy, because there is nothing wrong with us. We are human and have feelings too.

5. “You have cerebral palsy, I feel so bad for you.” We don’t want a pity party or a sob story just because we have to do things differently then most people do.

6. “May God heal you.” I’ve been told this many times by strangers when I’m out in public. When you say this, you’re making it seem as if we are fighting a sickness. We aren’t broken, we just have a condition that causes us to use a walker or a wheelchair.

7. “I had no idea you understood that because you have cerebral palsy.” Sometimes when speaking to someone about my interests, they say, “I had no idea you understood that.” If you say this, you’re insulting our intelligence and putting us in a category.

Next time you meet someone with cerebral palsy, please be cautious about your words and remember we are people first and foremost!

Getty image by Fizkes.

Originally published: January 24, 2020
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