Frequently Asked Questions about my Experience with Spastic Cerebral Palsy
What exactly is spastic CP?
I have mixed CP, meaning I have several different types. I have both spastic and athetoid CP. Spastic muscles are stiff and can be difficult to move while the athetosis results in an increased responsiveness to movement. When moving or stretching my muscles, my muscles jerk, shorten, and move in ways I cannot control ('flailing'). There are many degrees of spastic CP and CP in general. In my case, I have always had more athetoid-type movements.
How did I get CP?
My birth was difficult. While my mom was in labor, I swallowed meconium and amniotic fluid. With my lungs full of fluids, I had difficulty breathing. The medical team worked on me for 4 hours. It wasn't until I was 18 months old that I was diagnosed with CP.
Is CP a progressive disorder?
CP is a chronic condition, but not progressive. So, no, it will not get worse as one gets older. However, as you age your body will tolerate it differently. Exercising on a regular basis will help your body better tolerate the characteristics associated with CP. The more exercise you get, the more your strength and flexibility will improve or be maintained.
Does having CP mean you have an intellectual disability?
In my case, as well as many others with CP, no. This is a frustrating aspect of having a physical disability. There are quite a few people in our society who assume that having a physical disability must mean you have an intellectual disability as well. Having a disability is just another aspect of a person. I do not have an intellectual disability (mental retardation is an outdated term). However, individuals who have an intellectual disability are just as important and need to be respected, as we all do, as equal members of society. If people would be more open-minded and willing to look further than their first impression, they may be very surprised to discover we are not 'defective' and, in fact, have much to contribute to society.