Hi! My name is Chloe Tear, I am 19 years old and I'm a university student studying Psychology and Child Development. I have mild cerebral palsy which affects the left side of my body as a result of being born 8 weeks early and weighing 3lb 3oz, as well as epilepsy, chronic pain and impaired vision. During this blog, I will talk about what it’s like being a student who may face a few more hurdles than most. I hope you're able to follow my educational journey because anything can happen!
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Finding the Positives
I have always thought that it is important to focus on the positives that you have in life, so when asked by Link Disability Magazine to write about this topic I was really happy to get involved! This is my first magazine article I have had the pleasure of writing so I hope you all like it!
"When initially given a diagnosis for yourself or your child it can be the fear of the unknown that is the scariest part. I was diagnosed with mild cerebral palsy (CP), affecting my legs and left arm, at the age of seven and it would have been impossible to predict how things turned out. I understand that CP can be very unique to the individual; for me it has meant muscle weakness, muscles being too tight and lack of coordination and balance. Although my speech is unaffected, it has resulted in pain, seizures and a visual impairment, but here is why I think it is a positive.
When I was younger I often resorted to ‘blending in’ as it was the easier option when I didn’t fully understand what CP was. I have always attended a mainstream school and have found this to be a positive experience, especially when I got older. However, I slowly learned that ‘blending in’ is pointless and, at times, can just make the situation worse. When I was younger I didn’t see myself as different, often meaning I would get frustrated if I couldn’t keep up with peers. However, as I got older, the difference between my peers and I grew - they started going on night’s out, something that just wasn’t practical for me to do.
Now aged 18 I have achieved a lot. Some may argue this is because I have CP, and in some respects they are right. Cerebral palsy has allowed me to appreciate the small achievements. It has allowed me to be inspired by loads of young people and adults who are facing similar challenges as myself and through this I have created amazing friendships. A positive of living with cerebral palsy means I have learnt how to turn my obstacles into opportunities. It means I have had to work harder to make people see me, to stand out – but for all the right reasons.
Having cerebral palsy has allowed me to voice my opinion and create a change in people’s attitudes. How many people have an opportunity to educate others at the age of 18? Working in partnership with CP Teens UK and Scope, this has become a reality. If I believe something is not right, then I know something can be done about it.
When I set up the blog ‘Life as a Cerebral Palsy student’ I knew I wanted to raise awareness. Not only that, but I wanted to move away from the medical definition of cerebral palsy and make a collection of blog posts that were both truthful and relatable. I wanted someone who didn’t have cerebral palsy to gain more understanding, but allow people with CP to have someone to talk to.
I would rather stand out than blend in. Thank you cerebral palsy for helping me realise this."
In order for me to complete university away from home, and get to lectures in one piece- a PA (Personal Assistant) has been vital in me being able to be as independent as possible. I have actually enjoyed the process of hiring PA’s despite it being a little stressful to find one in time. Yet, when looking for a PA, it had to be someone who could drive as well as being capable to suit all of my needs. By having a car it would mean that I could get to hospital appointments easily. However, when advertising it was often extremely hard to find someone who was fairly young (not that this is essential!), was capable of the job, could drive and was okay being with people aged 19- 21 all of the time. After 30+ applications it became clear this was all quite a big ask! Who knows my full medical history? Who would have experience in Cerebral Palsy, seizures and visual impairment? Who can drive and wouldn’t mind being with young adults all day? Who would actually quite enjoy lectures? There is a…
Dear Chloe, You're currently 7 years old and are about to embark on a journey of a lifetime. This journey will show you the world in a completely new light, it will show you things you never thought you would see, and allow you to meet people you might otherwise have never met. Unfortunately, this journey is tough, it will test you past the limits you thought you had and cause so much frustration and upset- but you are capable of overcoming this, you can find tremendous joy in every aspect of your life. You have just been diagnosed with mild cerebral palsy. You have never heard of this, and have no idea what it is! But don't worry- mum's done lots of research and has your back! These hospital appointments may seem strange, and unnecessary as you don't think anything is wrong, but it will all become clear with time. Ever wondered why you walk on your toes and fall over more than your friends? Ever wondered why you can't hop, struggle with maths and feel tired? Or hav…
I am a part-time wheelchair user, this means that one day I can use my chair, and the next I can be walking with my stick. Being able to use a wheelchair on a part-time basis allows me to managed my energy levels and reduce pain, allowing me to function more effectively in everyday life. I am exactly the same person whether I use my stick or my chair, so why does the behaviour of others sometimes change?
Over the last few years, I have noticed people act differently to me depending on the equipment that I am using at that time, yet it was when doing my food shopping, of all things, that made me realise what those differences were.
I've noticed that when I use my stick, people don't tend to mind. I sometimes get a few inquisitive looks as they tried to figure out why a 19- year- old is using a walking stick, but apart from that it is fine. People in shops talk to me, telling me how much the items cost and expect me to pay- good job really considering it is my food for the week…