There are so many misconceptions when it comes to Cerebral Palsy. Most often it seems people assume that when you say your child has CP that means that they aren’t intelligent or that they are completely wheelchair bound.
While this is the case for many living with CP, there are also many who struggle in less obvious ways.
My son Bryce is 3 1/2 years old now and has mild spastic triplegic Cerebral Palsy. That means that his muscles are overly tight in three of his four limbs but not to the extent that he can’t use them at all.
When you first meet Bryce it’s quite likely that I’ll be holding him because he doesn’t yet walk. You probably wouldn’t realize how old he is because he looks and acts much more like an almost two year old than his own age. And so you might not be completely shocked when you realize that he doesn’t yet walk or talk either.
But you probably wouldn’t ever see him and think Cerebral Palsy. Unfortunately for Bryce though, it is his life’s struggle. The CP affects Bryce’s right side the most, making him tend to drag his right toes when he walks with his walker. And making using his right hand a complete and utter struggle, even with regular injections of Botox to block the messages from his brain that are making those muscles over tighten.
I remember vividly the day Bryce was diagnosed. He’d been dealt an unlucky death from the moment of his birth and had more than a few scary diagnoses under his belt by the time his one year well visit rolled around. While we knew the odds were staggeringly high that Bryce would have significant developmental delays, a life long relationship with his neurosurgeon and would be legally blind, I naively hoped that he would somehow avoid the CP designation. I was wrong.
We were close with our pediatrician and she knew we weren’t living in a fantasy land so I know that at that one year well visit, when she non-chalantly stated, “well, he has Cerebral Palsy,” that she didn’t mean to hurt me, blindside me or crush my dreams. Nevertheless, she did.
It was a tough day but I can honestly say that the next day I woke up and realized that who my son was hadn’t changed. Nor had the fact that we would do whatever we could to help him be independent and successful to the best of his ability.
It would be a lie to say I wish he didn’t have this struggle or that it doesn’t still kill me a little. But you can only focus on those things so much before you have to pick yourself up and ready yourself for the battles you can win.