Despite the wide range of information made available by television and the Internet, there are still a lot of misconceptions and stigmas surrounding Cerebral Palsy. People do not know what they don’t know, meaning people often do not ask questions because they are unaware that there is more to learn. Just as we operate this site and blog as a way to answer these questions, we also see unique opportunities for parents of children with Cerebral Palsy to become the advocates the world so desperately needs.
To be clear, we do not believe the onus of understanding should be on parents. Families of children with Cerebral Palsy are constantly pressed to overcome significant gaps in awareness and education when it comes to their child’s diagnosis and needs. However, we also are strong believers in the value of an authentic voice; when people hear from a person directly impacted by a condition, their ability to rely upon outdated or incomplete information often fades away.
With that said, here are three ways we believe stigmas surrounding Cerebral Palsy can be broken down in simple, productive efforts:
- Ask people if they have questions. Whether meeting a person’s stare with a smile and a question or sending out an email to family and friends summarizing a child’s recent diagnosis, a proactive effort to reach out can make a world of a difference. Doing so demonstrates that you are not hiding or ashamed of your child’s condition, while also providing a lane of communication. This prevents incorrect information from being relied upon and bridges gaps within your support structures.
- Start a blog or engage in online communities. Being a parent of a child with special needs can often lead to feelings of isolation, as other parents fail to understand your daily challenges. The Internet can help in connecting you with parents just like you. This can help in learning new information and connecting you with emerging resources, as well as providing a digital shoulder to lean on when life becomes difficult.
- Speak out against improper language and budgetary changes that harm special needs programs. Far too many people feel it is acceptable to speak down to or poorly about those with special needs. In a climate where political correctness is often looked ‘down upon,’ there should be unanimous support for avoiding negative, hurtful language aimed at young adults (and people in general) with special needs. It’s hard not to believe, then, that this sort of disrespect and dehumanization is the basis for continuous decreases and changes in budgets allocated to help those with special needs. As a society, when we show more respect and deference to those who face challenges every day, we live more closely to the standards of fairness and humanity that this country was founded upon.
Though we have accomplished much as a society when it comes to scientific research and acceptance, we still have a long way to go in terms of equally respecting and embracing each member of our society. In breaking down stigmas surrounding Cerebral Palsy, we not only help to create a better world for those living with CP, but we also help bolster the principles and values of this country.
For more information about advocacy, breaking down stigmas and barriers around Cerebral Palsy, or for more information about the rights of your child living with CP’s, contact us today by calling (800) 462-5772 or by filling out our online form.