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Rated: 13+ · Article · Experience · #1047817
My personal perspective on life with my disability.
Your personal experiences, perspectives and circumstances can shape, determine and influence your life's pathway. Lesser or greater, better or brighter, each of us is an individual. Nothing of human nature, in my opinion, is more vital, more precious and more valuable.

A considerable part of my personal life values stems from living with a physical disability from birth. I have mild, bi-lateral, lower limb Cerebral Palsy. It affects mostly my physical co-ordination, mobility and balance. Although, non-progressive, some of the secondary characteristics of my Cerebral Palsy present ongoing difficulties for me, such as my unusual physical gait creating changes to the function of my musculo-skelatal system. Unlike some people with Cerebral Palsy, my intellectual capabilities aren't compromised at all. Neither is (thankfully) my speech. My intelligence is considered to be well above 'average'.

Throughout the passage of living my life with Cerebral Palsy, I've been extremely fortunate enough to see many significant changes happening in relation to disability culture, societal views of disability, deinstitutionalisation, and major advances in medical technology, treatment and alternative therapies. In addition, I've seen gradual, but important changes and shifts in attitudes and values towards people with disabilities. More community inclusion and active participation in schools, workplaces, professions and recreation and leisure. Less verbal and physical abuse, blatant ignorance and open discrimination.

A critical influence in my own attitudes and approaches to the various challenges presented to me by my disability, has been that of my immediate, extended family, and of community. Personal encouragement and belief in me, in turn, made me strongwilled and determined enough to make a life for myself, independently, with a unique sense of personal pride, dignity and humility.

Mine was surely no easy path. A lifetime of corrective surgeries, drugs for horrendous muscular pain, physical therapy and hospital appointments. Perhaps not surprisingly, according to some closest to me, that I ended up training as a post-graduate public health researcher at Medical School. Not such a bad outcome after all for someone who was characterised as being without hope, not predicted to survive beyond my childhood. Even when nights in hospital saw me shivering with fear underneath, I was always more concerned with the condition of the unwell children surrounding me. Back then, I wondered if someone might have been able to prevent some of them from being in that sad situation in the beginning.

On a public level, I've always worked with the various media avenues to bring a greater awareness of disability issues. I've spoken publicly to community service groups, schools, colleges, business-people, and local and national politicians. I've written and had published several articles on social justice, human rights and human nature.

In a way, my physical disability has evolved alongside me. It has become a major part of my identity. Shaped irrevocably who I am. Yet, not wholly. Not entirely. I am still who I am. I'm so much more than my disability. However, without it, I likely would have become and be quite a different person.

My disability experience has asked different things of me at different times in my life. It has been a great and patient teacher. Gifted me with insight, empathy, compassion, and a 'second sense' about the humane side of people. Sometimes, the seemingly most ordinary and everyday tasks have seemed frustrating and soul-destroying. As simple as housework. Typing on a computer. Imagine, for a moment, not being able to type easily. You wouldn't any longer be empowered enough physically to communicate with the same level of aptitude on this website. Or, at least, not without some kind of assistive technology and/or personal assistance. My disability has constantly highlighted to me, that maintaining quality of life can become one of the most critical parts of our destiny. Without quality, we lose hope. Without equality, we also lose something from each of our contributions to the world as a whole.
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