I have been very busy the past week trying to get my life rearranged. My biggest priority is finding a way to get some extra income into the household. I have a possible lead right now working part-time as a personal care assistant to my neighbor who has Cerebral Palsy. She and her husband both have CP.
He gets around pretty well and is starting a new job on Tuesday as a case manager for United Cerebral Palsy. She, however, has a more severe form and needs a wheelchair and assistance with feeding herself. I have spent a lot of time with them both the past week and have really enjoyed getting to know them.
They both are very intelligent people with college educations and are extremely witty and funny. I feel that I have truly found great new friends in them. I admire them for their courage and strength of character and find their love for each other inspiring.I have spent time with them out in public and have been observing the way that other people react to them. A lot of people seem to be uncomfortable around them and can be even rude at times. We went to a restaurant and because the waitress had trouble understanding their speech, she looked to me to place their orders. Yes they both can be hard to understand, but when they speak slowly and you make an effort to listen, you can understand what they are saying pretty well.
We also made a trip to the Clinton Presidential Library and the docents and security guards were sickenly sweet to them, like they were children. From my observations, people seem to see that their bodies don’t work correctly and assume that their minds don’t either. Of course, this is far from being true, their minds work perfectly well. But most importantly, they are first and foremost, people. A man and a woman who love each other and enjoy life.
Two people that like to tease each other and joke around, who like to play games and socialize with their family and friends. Inside they are just like you and I. What a shame that a lot of people take a look at what’s on the outside and quickly turn away.
This experience has taught me so much, not just about Cerebal Palsy but about human nature. It doesn’t matter if you are talking about race or religion or disabilities, it seems to be natural for us to avoid people that are different. Perhaps it is instinctual. Maybe it was necessary for our ancestors, to ensure the perpetuation and survival of their own kind, to avoid people that were not like them. But in this day, such discrimination is unnecessary and counterproductive to society.
If we take the time to get to know someone for who they are on the inside, and not the package on the outside, we can enrich all of our lives so much. I admit that in the past I never really taken the time to get to know people with disabilities. I also felt strange and uncomfortable around them, but I am so glad that I took the time to get to know these wonderful people. I hope that I have grown from the experience and will be more excepting and open to other people in the future.