A Recipe for Social Inclusion

Being a teenage girl with cerebral palsy made life interesting. Most teenage girls live life out working or partying depending on personality. Life with spastic quadriplegia: the type of cerebral palsy that I have, made my social life different from my peers. Spastic quadriplegia simply means that the cerebral palsy I have impacts all of my limbs. There are different types of cerebral palsy and spastic quadriplegia is clearly the one I am most comfortable writing about.

A recipe for improving ones social life with cerebral palsy

One of the major impacts for me with spastic quadriplegia cerebral palsy is that my balance sucks. The social aspects of life spastic quadriplegia cerebral palsy made for a different social life. I don’t have the recipe that will create a sense of social inclusion. I know I have been writing a lot on the topic of social inclusion lately but it is my hope that by writing about it I can personally do something small in creating that recipe of change for the generations that will follow me. I would say that the social aspects of cerebral palsy have been the hardest for me while growing up with cerebral palsy. I wish there was a way to put teens in my shoes so they could get a true sense of the difference for me and my peers with cerebral palsy. That being said I am in no way looking for a pity party – and I think those mock simulation days where you put a student in a chair are good but at the end of it they can get up and walk away from it never paying another thought to it, So what elements go into the recipe for change? I feel perhaps the first one is education. But how do you educate someone on social inclusion? How do you teach social inclusion? Is it something that can be taught and if so how?

Another thing I feel that is important to remember to realize you or your child’s abilities. Spastic quadriplegia cerebral palsy makes my range motion limited. The next part of my recipe may come across blunt but I am guilty of doing this and I feel badly at times for it. That is, asking others to do stuff for me that I can do for myself. Spastic quadriplegia doesn’t make me any different than anyone else it just can make things a bit harder on a social front.

I hope you enjoyed this article – whether you agree with everything or not, send me your comments. opinions, suggestions and experiences – your input is very welcomed and much appreciated!

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About lifeofthedifferentlyabled

Laura Forde founded her blog through my eyes: my life with cerebral palsy in December 2009 out of a great need she had, realizing that there was a vast gap in firsthand accounts of what life was like living with Cerebral Palsy: she knew then that the only way to see this reflected online was to create the change herself and thus this blog was born Laura was born four months premature, weighing a mere one pound three ounces and given ten percent odds for survival. She was diagnosed with cerebral palsy at the age of three. After graduating from college, she continued writing and doing what she loves to do most; speaking to groups about her life experiences and sharing what she has learned from her journey. Her blog lifeofthedifferentlyabled was created after discovering that the online community lacked the voice of people in her situation. In its first year, the site saw over 20,000 hits from all over the world. Her readers are from all walks of life; some with disabilities, parents of children, professionals, and others who seek to gain a better understanding of the world of the differently abled. You can follow her on Twitter or Facebook
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7 Responses to A Recipe for Social Inclusion

  1. So true and a much overlooked aspect to having CP! This is a big reason I wrote my teen memoir Off Balanced. I want teens with CP to know they’re aren’t alone and I wanted to give able-bodied teens an opportunity to think about what life is like with a disability. For anyone interested, I have a free preview of Off Balanced posted online at http://www.zacharyfenell.com/Off_Balanced_Preview.pdf

  2. Kate says:

    I agree with everything you said here. The disability simulation day they did for example at my sister’s school seemed like a good idea to me in a way but there was a sense in which I also objected to it. I never articulated the reasons for this to myself or anyone else as well as you did here. What you said about getting others to do what you can do yourself… well, I have done a bit of that too, but also have stubbornly tried to do things for myself although they are visibly difficult and take a lot of time and unnatural motions. This too can be socially isolating as it draws attention to the ways you are “different” and may prohibit some people from realizing that you can interact with them as an equal, or may be intimidating as people look uncomfortably at you struggling to do some things that they find effortless or easy,

  3. Kate says:

    I just thought of another thing. The experience of having a visible physical disability is sort of like this drama game we used to play when I was in high school. I can’t remember exactly how it went but the gist of it was one person had to pretend they were “blue” while all the others were their usual colour. If there was some way for each of the able-bodied students to simulate being the only one in a crowd who was different and to feel what it is to be stared at and excluded because of the difference, that is more what isolation is like. I think that experiencing this for even 5 minutes might cause students to think twice and attempt to be more inclusive of their peers with disabilities. Because another thing about isolation is I really don’t think it is always intentional– it is unconscious and comes from kids being both caught up in themselves and ignorant of how it feels to be excluded because they are the ones with the power to include. By educating on disability and the experience of being socially isolated, you are “including” them in this experience and causing them to be more cognizant of their relationships with their friends with disabilities.

  4. Kate says:

    All is fine now, that stress is out of my life. I don;t remember quite how the blue/white thing worked either, but I think the point I was trying to make is that if there was some way to simulate the isolation/difference one feels as a result of disability, that would be more effective than playing at being in a wheelchair for a couple of hours.

  5. Pingback: family life doesn’t stop because of life with cerebral palsy | through my eyes my life with cerebral palsy

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