Have you ever had a day when you forget that you have cerebral palsy? You simply wake up, do your normal routine and don't even think about your disability at all. Then, when you least expect it, society reminds you of how different people in society can really view you. I find myself in that situation more often than I care to admit. I'm discovering that moments like these can be painful but also reminds us that disability education and awareness are still very much needed.
- I wake up and get ready to enjoy a leisurely weekend day at the mall. I'm all set to check out the deals and just have a nice day. As I'm strolling a long, I see an adorable child standing in the aisle having fun. All of the sudden, as I come closer, the parents grab the child forcefully by the arm and say, "get out of the way or you will get run over!" I try to smile or make light of the situation because I find it so ridiculous. I would never hit a child with my wheelchair. I can see them and will maneuver away from them like I do anyone else. And there is the reminder that I am different in society.
- I go to a restaurant with my husband, and we're having a fun time. The waiter purposely does not give me a menu so we have to ask for one. We guess that they think that I can't read. When the waiter returns to take our order, they forget to realize that I'm a person who can order for myself. They don't look at me and ask, "what does she want?" This attitude in restaurants are more common than what you might realize. It makes me remember once again how different I'm viewed in society.
- I am excited to go on a job interview for a teaching position. I wear my professional clothes and have my portfolio organized. I feel butterflies in my stomach but ready to show them why I would be an excellent candidate. I pull up to the school administration and see a accessible door open button. After I go inside, I'm greeted by steps in a public school building! The administrator decides it is okay to interview me as he sat on the steps as people walked in and out of the building.
- I wake up and plan a fun day out with my children. We all get dressed and set to enjoy a day out. While we are at a store and ready to make a purchase, my daughter helps me get out my credit card so we can buy some things. Then the stares start and then we hear how she's my helper and more sympathetic stares. Or people ask if we are friends because they can't wrap their minds around the fact that someone in a wheelchair can have a child.
- When I was pregnant, I had a miserable cold. I went to my local pharmacy and wanted to ask the pharmacist what medications would be safe for my unborn baby. I couldn't figure out why he looked at me like I was crazy. Then I realized that he had a difficult time understanding that I was pregnant and had cerebral palsy.
Society has gotten much better in understanding people with disabilities but still have a way to go.
Originally published by Jessica Grono on Cerebral Palsy News Today