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6 Truths People With Cerebral Palsy Want You to Know on World CP Day

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October 6 is World Cerebral Palsy Day. If you’re like most people with a passing interest in Today’s Very Important Day, you may check out a few facts and learn things like 17 million people have cerebral palsy and 1 in 500 babies is diagnosed with CP. You may watch a viral Facebook video. Maybe you’ll add a frame to your profile picture. That’s the extent of attention many people will give to World CP Day. They know cerebral palsy exists, so that’s good enough, right?

This year, we ask you to go beyond “awareness” and look deeper. Take some time to learn not just what cerebral palsy is but about the lives of people who have it. Question the stereotypes you may hold about disability, about people who move or speak differently. Talk to someone with cerebral palsy. Hire someone with cerebral palsy. Date someone with cerebral palsy.

Our Mighty community is filled with writers with cerebral palsy who have powerful stories to tell. They have so much to teach, if you’re willing to listen. We’ve collected highlights from some of our favorite stories, but there are many more you shouldn’t miss, either. Please read their words, then click on the links to see their full stories.

Here are six truths Mighty writers with cerebral palsy hope you’ll learn and understand — not just on World CP Day but every day. Making a better world for people with cerebral palsy begins with you.

1. We Are Beautiful, Inside and Out

Overlooking the city.
Erin Noon enjoying a road trip.

“Living with a disability is my ‘normal.’  It is not ‘bad.’  It is not ‘wrong.’ And neither is my body. — Kelly Douglas, Why I No Longer Call My Side Affected By Cerebral Palsy My ‘Bad Side’

“Living this life from the seat of a wheelchair has always been part of my plan. It is messy, challenging and frustrating. It is not perfect, but it is mine. That is empowering. I have come to learn that to wish a quick fix on my life only devalues the woman I am, the very thing I fight against.” — Mollie Miller, Would I Cure My Disability If I Could?

“If I want to do something, I figure out a way, and I don’t let my disability hold me back. I honestly don’t care if people find aspects of my disability inconvenient — I do too, but I’m not going to accept less from life because of it.” — Karin Willison, What ‘My Body, My Choice’ Means to Me as a Woman With a Disability

“We are fed a lie that perfection is beauty, and ‘normalcy’ is the goal. I will never be normal, and frankly, I’ve stopped trying to be.” — Brooks Fitts, The Extra Hoop I Have to Jump Through as a Person With a Disability

“I will not let society’s perceptions of what is considered “beautiful” dictate my life. There’s no need to call me an “inspiration.” I’m just someone who has found the confidence in life that I feel society tried, so desperately, to take away and deem me ugly and undesirable.” — Erin Noon, A Disabled Diva’s Thoughts on Beauty and Self-Acceptance

2. We Have Relationships and Families

Jessica Grono with her kids.

“Being a good mom isn’t about holding the baby, feeding the baby or changing them… Being a good mom is about making good decisions, organization, love, time and patience. With a disability, you can add creativity and humility to the mix. Even though your child might not run to you to be picked up, they will come to you for your love, time and internal strength.” — Jessica Grono, Dear New Mom With a Disability

“Loving me means you kiss my scars, help me throw away these problematic misconceptions society has taught us, and we learn and grow together every step of the way.” — Ashley Burnside, What It Means to Love Someone With Cerebral Palsy

“It feels great to be wooed and made to feel sexy by others.” — Andrew Gurza, The Sexiest Thing I’ve Ever Heard as a Person With a Disability

“My confidence in myself changed for the better, and relationships, and subsequently sex, weren’t just a pipe dream but also a realistic part of my future.” — Alexander Presthus, Why I’m Talking About Sex and Intimacy as a Person With Cerebral Palsy

“I encourage all women and men with disabilities of any and every kind not to give up hope. I am living proof that dreams come true!” — Heather Hancock, I Am a Woman With a Disability and I Am Happily Married

3. Other People’s Attitudes Hold Us Back More Than Our Disability

Austin Wykes.

“Disabled people don’t exist to inspire non-disabled people or to remind them that there are no excuses in life, or that life could always be worse.” — Karin Hitselberger, What You’re Really Saying When You Call Me ‘Inspirational’

“Do me a favor, give yourself permission to be uncomfortable.” — Katie Minetti, When Other People’s Discomfort Limits Me as a Person With a Disability

“It’s scary to look at things we don’t understand but we know could easily happen to ourselves or people we love. It’s uncomfortable. Well, lady on the bus or man in the grocery store, you are making me uncomfortable… and making an unnecessary scene. You are not God. Or a magician. Just stop.” — Mollie Miller, When a Little Girl Saw My Wheelchair and Asked, ‘Can We Pray for You?’

“Unearned praise made me feel like there was a lack of “real” expectation for my life, and that participating was considered to be enough.” — Austin Wykes, When People Say I’m Doing Great ‘for Someone With a Disability’

4. Many of Us Live With Chronic Pain and Fatigue

“No doctor ever really told us I would eventually be living in a body affected by the years of wear and tear spasticity has caused.” — Annie Nason, Why Calling Cerebral Palsy ‘Non-Progressive’ Doesn’t Tell the Whole Story

“I think calling CP ‘non-progressive’ is absolutely bull.” — Jessica Niziolek, Changing the Conversation About Cerebral Palsy and Chronic Pain

While cerebral palsy in and of itself doesn’t get worse, the things it does to my body — osteoarthritis, uneven hips and mild scoliosis to name a few — do.” — Angela Joy, How My Walker Taught Me to Accept My Body and Myself

“I have to conserve energy… I no longer have the abundance I had when I was younger. The pain and fatigue use up my energy reserves faster than anything else.” — Heather Hancock, The Invisible Dance of Chronic Fatigue and Cerebral Palsy

5. The Future Is Bright for Kids With Cerebral Palsy

Karina Siriano as a child.

“Cerebral palsy is different in each person, but if you’ve been given a doom-and-gloom scenario, don’t believe it. Give your child a chance.” — Karin Willison, To Parents of Children With Cerebral Palsy, From an Adult With CP

“Chase your dreams and embrace the people who love you, and forget those who don’t. Please don’t be anything more or less than what you are. You will make it! I promise!” — Molly Spence, To My Teenaged Self Who Felt Like a ‘Weirdo’ for Having Cerebral Palsy

Yes, you have CP. So what? Be yourself. Do what you love and don’t apologize for who you are.” — Karina Siriano, 10 Things I Wish I Could Tell My Childhood Self About Cerebral Palsy

6. Having Cerebral Palsy Isn’t Tragic

Juana Ortiz.

“I have to accept myself in order for others to accept me.” Juana Ortiz, When I Realized I Shouldn’t Hide My Cerebral Palsy

“Living with cerebral palsy has forged my character, strengthened my resolve and provided me with a powerful sense of belonging, self-love and purpose.” — Kelly Douglas, Why My Cerebral Palsy Is a Gift I Wouldn’t Exchange

“Just because I don’t have the ability to walk in the same way as most people, it does not mean I don’t have the ability to make footprints.”  — Jessica Neels, What a Funny T-Shirt Symbolizes About My Life With Cerebral Palsy

“Every single person on this earth has a story. Some share it, some don’t, but regardless of how we look or what challenges we have, we’re all beautifully and uniquely human. I’m so grateful that CP has given me an empathetic perspective on life, and I strive to live with a genuine heart.” — Annie Nason, 4 Lessons Life With CP Has Taught Me, and One I’m Learning Every Day

“Pursue everything you can dream of, because life is full of opportunity, and opportunity doesn’t discriminate. You are not your disability. Drive and determination are the key to success.” — Molly Spence, 3 Ways Having a Disability Positively Influences My Life

“I wouldn’t trade my life for anything!” — Lydia Dawley, My Life With Cerebral Palsy Is Like Yours

To read more great cerebral palsy stories, visit our CP page.

Share your cerebral palsy story and become a Mighty contributor here.

Originally published: October 6, 2017
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