Monday, March 21, 2016

Denise Says: Cerebral Palsy Awareness Month Interview #4

What is the most important thing you have learned about yourself?

It's not an easy answer.  It's a multi level answer. I learned about myself that I am just like everybody else but I do things differently, and that over the course of time, as I've grown up, that it's okay to be me.  I have to do things differently.  From high school on, I was integrated, but because of the fact that I can only use one arm, that kind of put a different spin on things.  Over the course of 56 years, I've learned that people don't always know how to interact with me, but that's okay because I'm learning, too.

What is your favorite thing about the month of March?

It's spring time and a new season.  It's also my birthday.  

What is your favorite thing about yourself relating to your disability?

The fact that I'm not afraid to put myself out there.  Do different things.  Interact with people.  Not only am I letting people see what's inside with regard to my intellect, but I'm letting people know that it's what's inside that counts.  People realize, after speaking to me a few minutes, that I'm on the same intellectual playing field that they are.  By looking for opportunities, I find a way to put myself out there.  Because where one door closes, another one opens.

How do you deal with people's invasive questions, comments, or stares?

I'm so used to being disabled that when people look at me, I don't even think about it as a stare.  It's what I'm used to.  If it's a little kid, I'll answer their questions.  I think it's just a matter of me informing individuals, and wherever I can do that, that's fine with me.  

What is your favorite song?

My favorite song is Hero by Mariah Carey.  The reason why it's my favorite is because it talks about relying on yourself and believing in yourself, when other people may not.  

What is one thing you want people to realize once they meet you?

That I'm just like they are!  And yes, my experiences made me a little bit different, but I'm just like they are.  

Do you have a role model or a favorite celebrity in the disability community?  If so, who are they, and share a little about them.

I have two.  One person, his name was Ed Roberts, and he began the independent living movement in the '80s.  Independent living centers are non residential agencies where disabled people can go to find out information and get assistance to get as independent as they choose. The staff at independent living centers can also teach the person with the disability how to advocate for themselves.   

Also, the show Push Girls.  I think they show a good example of what it's like to be disabled.  And I met two of them.  I met Auti and Chelsie.

Have you ever watched TV, movies or a music video and thought, "That person's just like me!”  What was the show/movie/video?  Describe the moment that made you feel the most seen, heard or validated as a disabled person/person with a disability?

One of the people on Push Girls. Her name was Angela, and she was totally dependent on other people.  I could totally relate to that.

What is your favorite piece of adaptive equipment and why is it your favorite?  (Wheelchair, walker, crutches, etc.)  (Can be yours or someone else's.)

The only piece of adaptive equipment I use is my wheelchair because it gets me where I need to go.

What is your favorite scent?

Anais Anais perfume.  It's a light, floral scent.

I have some advice for parents:

You're going to be the most creative part of your child's life.  You're going to know what they can do and what they can't do.  Just look at their abilities.  Don't let the preconceived notions of what your child can do or can't do, stop you.  It's by being creative and thinking outside the box that things happen.  Don't be limited by that.  Don't limit them.  By the time they're older, all this new technology is going to be out there.  

Whether your child is going to live on his own or whether he's going to live in a group home, when that child turns eighteen, make sure he gets on the list right away.  That way housing won't be nearly as big of an issue.  The same goes for group homes.  If you're child has to live in a group home, get his name on a waiting list.  You can always say no, if you're not ready.  


{Image is: Denise in a white shirt
with pink flowers, smiling.
Photo credit: Denise} 

My name is Denise and I have lived on my own since I was nineteen years old.  I am a life coach.  I help people go from where they are now, to where they want to be by taking the small in between steps to get from one place to the other. If you need guidance in finding resources, I may be able to help. Or if you would like to take advantage of my free coaching, contact me at 

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