The CP Question

I was recently asked the question, when did I know that I had cerebral palsy (cp).

To my knowledge, that was the first time I had been asked that question and it kind of stumped me for a minute. When you’re born with a disability, it just becomes part of your everyday life that one truly doesn’t focus on.

As I began to ponder the question asked, middle school came to mind. I went to an elementary school that only kids with disabilities attended. I loved my elementary school Gorman. Gorman has a lot to do with my achievements to date. Plus, I met many of my lifelong friends there and because all students at Gorman had disabilities, we were the majority.

It wasn’t until I hit middle school that things started to change.

I was mainstreamed in the seventh grade at Fairport middle school. Mainstreamed means: to place (a student with special needs) into a mainstream class or school. This is where I really started to realize I had cerebral palsy. Looking back, although I loved my elementary school, I kind of wish I was mainstreamed from the start. Unfortunately, during my Fairport years, I was no longer a part of the majority.  I was instead a minority, which made life a bit difficult.

Good thing I had big brothers that taught me how to be strong and, also, how to defend myself. This included language that they said, Mom wouldn’t approve of, but use them when needed. Thanks to my big bros, I defended myself then and still know how today, when I need too.

Kids have no filter, and some can be mean. If children are not taught at a young age that differences are ok, one with a disability can sometimes find it hard to fit in, especially if your disability is visible. Don’t get me wrong, not all kids are mean. Most are just curious when meeting someone who may talk, walk, or move differently. When curiosity comes into play, awareness is key. It can often help clarify but you must be prepared, there’s a risk that no matter how much you try, you’ll never be accepted by all.  But that’s ok, you don’t need the un-empathetic people in your life anyway.

My cp was very apparent to the middle schoolers, and some took advantage of it, at my expense. Of course, my feelings were hurt but thanks to my family, faith, and real friends my spirit came shining through to be the best. I became amazing and most of all, the happy Shari, the one you know today.

My cp is part of me which I had to learn to accept and even love. As I dig deeper into this question, I thank the heavens that I didn’t let the negative vibes of some of those middle schoolers throw me off my course and dictate the rest of my life. Accept who you are, for your unique and the world is a better place because of you.

With this, hello world, I have cp and I’m truly ok with myself and I’ve learned at the end of the day, that’s all that truly matters.

8 comments on “The CP Question

  1. Connie on

    What a wonderful message. You are such a great person, and knowing you in High School, you did take care of yourself, when needed of course. You are an inspiration. You are such a great writer and so good at expressing your self. I love reading your blogs!!

  2. Sharon B. Mitchell on

    Shari, I truly am inspired by you and your blogs. Weekly you give us vital information that educates us about disabilities. You are a wonderful advocate for everyone who needs support, especially to those who have Cerebral Palsy. God Bless..

  3. Mary Pfeil on

    Shari, I can relate to your mainstreaming experience, as mine was similar. My parents decided to take me out of school for children with disabilities starting in the 7th grade. I attended parochial school 7th grade through high school. All the students were in established cliques and no one new with a disability or not were allowed to join. I found the six-year experience very frustrating and depressing. All of a sudden I was not a popular person and my difference due to my obvious disability was not acceptable. Thank God, when I started at Wright State, I found acceptance and social opportunities with both students with and without disabilities.


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