Wednesday, November 14, 2012

May I Ask You a Personal Question?: Talking About CP (Part 1)

"What happened to you?"
"Why do you walk like that?"
"Are you paralyzed?"
"What happened to your legs?"
"What's wrong with you?" 
"Why do/did you you use crutches?"
"Why can't you walk straight?"

As a person with a disability, I'm no stranger to questions like these. I've been fielding questions about my gait for as long as I can remember. In preschool, I distinctly remember replying that "I got hurt in my mommy's tummy," which probably isn't exactly true, but at that age, that was the extent to which I understood my disability, and my peers were usually satisfied with this answer.

In general, I was comfortable answering these questions, but as I got older, I felt more awkward answering them. They were almost never asked with malicious intent - just curious, innocent questions, but every time somebody asked them, I felt warmth spread to my face, and my muscles tensed.

Writing about my disability has helped me become more accustomed to speaking about it, but it's still something that I struggle with. I think some of my trepidation came about when I reached elementary school, because even as a young child, I remember being conscious of the fact that adults usually avoided the topic with me, almost like it was taboo. I think some of the awkwardness stemmed from my own feelings too, though, because I hated being tagged as "different." I wanted to be like everyone else.

Once I reached middle school, the questions about my disability stopped almost entirely. Sometimes even the lack of questions bothered me (you never can win, can you? haha), because I knew people wondered about my gait but were too afraid to ask. In fact, some of my best friends didn't even know about my CP! Obviously they were aware that I walked differently, but they didn't know why. It's not that I was being secretive or anything, but it's not exactly the easiest conversation to bring up, and if they accept me for who I am regardless, why bother?

What's more, even when I did receive questions, rarely did I answer them by actually saying "cerebral palsy." It's just not a term that I usually say out loud. I've always wondered: does the general population even know what CP is?

Click here for part 2 of this post! :)


  1. Thank you!! I'm so glad you visited!

    Asher and Nolan are doing SO well! I love reading about their amazing progress! :)

  2. OMG how precious are you???? (That is rhetorical. You are very precious.) And wow, can I relate to ALL of those questions. I always hated being put on the spot with questions from unfamiliar people, but I usually don't mind them from friends.

  3. I received more personal questions when I was younger, but like you, when I reached 7th grade or so, the questions stopped. Of course, that was also when I no longer had to wear a leg brace, so that may have played a role, but people never asking made me wonder if they were being polite or just didn't notice. Answering those personal questions does get tricky!


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