What is Cerebral Palsy (CP)?
CP is a complex, lifelong disability. It primarily affects movement, but people with CP may also have visual, learning, hearing, speech, epilepsy and intellectual impairments. It can be mild – a weakness in one hand – to severe – where people have little control over movements or speech and may need 24 hour assistance.
People living with CP can experience a range of responses from others in their communities.
On one end of the spectrum, they can face deep-seated but misguided sympathy, or even pity. Though intentions are good, they infantilise the person with CP. They can be smothered with (too much) love, and spoken to in a simple, childlike way. Others can subconsciously over-protect a person with CP, and thus prevent them from having essential life experiences.
On the other end of the spectrum, CP is viewed through deep seated cultural beliefs. It may be seen as validation of superstitions about the mother, or wrath upon a family. Some even believe that CP is contagious or that a child with CP brings shame to a family. Mothers may be abandoned with their child, or a person with CP lives their lives in an institution.
And in the middle are thousands of fine people who still find it difficult to make eye contact or know how to communicate with someone who has CP. It is not that they feel any ill will, it is just best—maybe even polite—to not engage.
There is nothing to be gained in blaming people for their ignorance about CP. Instead, we will work to put an end to it. We have the ability and the moral obligation to ensure everyone knows the real truth, and acts accordingly.
What can one do on World CP Day (6th Oct)?
Over the last few years, World CP Day has been celebrated by Going Green 4 CP.