Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Don't limit me

The word "limitation" means so much more to a person with a disability than to someone without a disability. For someone with cerebral palsy, the word limitation begins to be heard and often repeated as early as infancy. I remember hearing limitations from doctors, teachers, camp counselors, family and friends my whole life. However, I never set limitations on myself and didn't accept what others felt I could or couldn't do.

When you have a disability, such as cerebral palsy, all the outside world seems to focus on is your limitations.  The wheelchair is obvious, the speech impediments, the different way someone moves, and the need for assistance become the focus.  But what if someone looked deeper into someone's heart? They would find much more than limitations.

In my own mind and heart, I see no limitations for myself.  I naturally know what my body is capable of and just move on with my life.  Limitations hold you back, but I want to soar. And, so I did as well as the thousands of people who live with cerebral palsy. We aren't victims of cerebral palsy.  We are people who figure out ways to do whatever we set our mind to do. What you might see as limitations, we just see as daily life.  When someone tries to limit me, I try harder to find a way. 

Something that most people don't realize that people with cerebral palsy often forget that we have it.  No one, that I know of, sits around and feels badly about themselves all day. And if they do, believe me cerebral palsy is the least of their problems.  I only think about my disability when I'm trying something new or answering questions about it. Only once in awhile, do I feel bad about my disability or mad that I can't do something that it is just not possible.

What I have come to realize is that cerebral palsy isn't as limiting to people with disabilities as society can be. Society is the one dictating limits to us more than cerebral palsy.  For instance, steps to a public building such as a really cool new coffee house in town that we will never be able to check out. Employers judging someone based on what they see and think that they know instead of allowing someone to prove themselves. Laws that prevent people who have disabilities to get married because if they do, then they can lose much needed medical benefits that are needed to survive.

One of the biggest limitation are places such as Hollywood portraying an unrealistic view of someone with a disability. A recent movie out during the summer showed a young man who lived a better life than most of us choosing to commit suicide than to live with a disability.  Assisted suicide being pushed or even expected to people with any disability as a good alternative instead of conquering life itself. 

If I let the limitations that others placed on me settle into my soul, I wouldn't be where I am today. So many limits even if I could graduate high school let alone college. The ability to teach, dance, marry, have children, raise children, work, play sports and to be a leader are all limits I was given since I was diagnosed with cerebral palsy.  All the limits that I refused to accept and did what I wanted regardless of what others thought.

I hope that today someone would not place limits on anyone but especially those with cerebral palsy and other disabilities.  I hope today we can start to break down barriers that actually make life more difficult for someone with a disability instead of easier.  Instead of saying, "you can't do that," how about we say,  "how can I help you do that?" Live beyond limits and reach your goals set for yourself.

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