Hey there beauties! We hope you are as excited to roll into the month of March as we are! We also hope you have your green attire ready and waiting, because this month brings with it a lot of great opportunities to get your green on. We’re not talking about St. Patrick's Day, but March is also Cerebral Palsy Awareness month.
For those of you who are curious, Cerebral Palsy (C.P.) is a broad diagnostic term used to describe a problem with movement and posture, due to damage or abnormalities in the brain that makes certain task or activities difficult. It is the most common motor disorder and the second most common disability found in children today.
From an early age, most of us received unconditional love and support from our parents. We soon learned that were our loudest cheerleaders and our strongest advocates; the most supportive members on our team for life. A child with any type of disability quickly learns how imperative it is to have a supportive team. Keeping that in mind, in honor of Cerebral Palsy Awareness Month I decided not only to get a bit personal and give you some insight into my childhood, but also use our platform to highlight, celebrate, and cheer on parents of children with various disabilities, not just Cerebral Palsy. You are HEROES!
Slick Chicks takes pride in the fact that we are a forward thinking, inclusive company. It is our hope and desire that this conversation can be used as a tool to speak to and give confidence to new parents of children with Cerebral Palsy (and other disabilities) who might need that small reminder to never lose hope. Remember, your child is perfect just the way they are. Most Importantly, you are doing the best you can.
Thirty-something years ago my parents were raising me, their daughter with spastic cerebral palsy. I was blessed with loving parents who fought for me to have equal opportunities in school and in life. They told me that I could accomplish anything I set my mind too. They also made some mistakes, mostly out of fear and their own internal struggles to accept my disability. But through it all, they only wanted what they saw as the best for me.
Having supportive parents has allowed me to grow into a self-reliant, relatively healthy, and well-adjusted woman. I also take pride in the fact that I have lived independently, with the help of personal care assistants, since the age of 19. Although it’s not always easy, I live life on my own terms, and I wouldn’t trade that for anything. In the past, parents of other children with Cerebral Palsy have told me that they hope their children can grow up to be like me. The truth is, now in my adulthood I do my best to be a good example and help young people with disabilities and their parents to see what is possible. However, I must admit, if it wasn’t for my mother, step-father, and grandparents fighting for me from the very beginning, nurturing my inner advocate (even if that meant we had to butt heads) I most definitely would not be the independent woman I am today. They truly are my C.P. heroes!
At Slick Chicks we realize the difficulties that come with parenting a child. Listed below are just a few tips for parents of kids with Cerebral Palsy:
1. Let go of grief and see the possibilities.
I understand that you may be going through a grieving process surrounding your child’s condition. You are mourning what might have been. However, if you let that grief drive your decisions, you’ll only be doing a disservice to yourself and your child.
2. Don’t try to “fix” your child with Cerebral Palsy.
From a child’s perspective, cerebral palsy is not inherently bad. Nothing is “wrong” with them until someone else tells them so. Don’t go chasing after every surgery or therapy or experimental treatment in the hope that it will make your child “normal”. The only thing that will accomplish is making the child feel bad about him or herself for not being good enough. Your child is good enough as he or she is!
3. Foster your child’s intellectual development.
I was mainstreamed into a regular classroom beginning in elementary school. Inclusion is essential for your child to develop academically and socially. Be an active part of your child’s education. Talk to their teachers regularly and volunteer in the classroom. Fight to change classes or schools if your child is being segregated or not receiving the appropriate services.
4. Prepare your child for independence.
Like most young adults, people with cerebral palsy have a desire to build an independent life. Pursuing higher education, finding housing, obtaining employment, and hiring caregivers can all be scary for parents and adult children, and they are not without risk, but the benefits far outweigh the risks.
5. Therapy is great in moderation.
I credit it with helping me gain more mobility that I would have not have had otherwise. For me, the best therapy involved fun activities that naturally develop the body. Sports, horseback riding, dance, riding an adapted bike, throwing a ball for the dog, swimming — let your child do the same things other kids do, and they’ll gain new skills and abilities. If you force your child to do grueling daily therapy, you may face a battle of wills, and that’s not healthy for the parent-child relationship.
Slick Chicks celebrates all the individuals that roll with Cerebral Palsy this month and we ask you to join us as we “Go Green for C.P.” on March 25th! Make sure to tell us in the comment section who your C.P. hero is so we can keep the conversation going!
For more Information on Cerebral Palsy please visit these websites:
“With tremendous burdens often come enormous gifts. The trick is to identify the gifts, and glory in them.”-Dr. Maya Shetreat-Klein
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See ya in your skivvies!
Shannon and the Slick Chicks Team