Sometimes in the search for resources to help best educate students with disabilities one resource goes overlooked, other people with disabilities! Doctors give their opinions. Therapists whether physical, occupational, speech, or another kind recommend resources. Parents un-doubly perform their own research and bring up their results with the aforementioned professionals.
All that proves great but I feel to exert an even more comprehensive effort try reaching out to other people with disabilities. Living with a disability inherently gives a perspective no degree or training program can teach. A perspective rooted in real life experiences, valuable experiences to learn from. What worked in the person’s educational career? What didn’t and how do we learn from those mistakes to avoid making them again with the current generation?
When I started writing my memoir Off Balanced I aimed to empower current students with cerebral palsy (CP). Growing up I saw my cerebral palsy negatively, feeling embarrassed about standing out and frustrated by my inability to blend in. During my college years my viewpoint rotated 180 degrees. I came to embrace my disability and see the positives. Off Balanced hoped to let current teenagers quicken their journey to embrace their disabilities.
Now during the writing process feedback on my manuscript led me to realize anyone in the current teen’s life albeit a teacher, parent, or peer could also find the read useful. In fact I recently enjoyed an engaging email conversation with a father of a 14-year old with cerebral palsy. Off Balanced left the father shedding tears because he saw many similarities between my story and his son’s.
Throughout our email conversation I offered my best advice. Unfortunately, logic only extends so far. As I stated in one email message, “That’s part of the problem with teenagers. You can have the best advice but sometimes they only accept it once they learn by experience.”
This provides an example demonstrating the limits one person’s story’s resourcefulness provides. Thankfully though, I am armed with a varied network. I encouraged the father to join the weekly cerebral palsy Twitter chat #CPChatNow I co-host every Wednesday at 8pm ET with Reaching for the Stars Foundation’s Student Ambassador Blake Henry.
Our #CPChatNow community contains a diverse group including current high school students with cerebral palsy, current college students with CP, and young professionals with cerebral palsy. With Wednesday, March 25th National Cerebral Palsy Awareness Day we decided we wanted to do something special for the chat that day. We want you the educator, special needs parent, or caregiver to join us and ask us any questions. Allow us to become your resource.
While our collective expertise lay with cerebral palsy, we will do our best to answer all questions. To join in follow these steps:
1. Sign into Twitter a few minutes before 8pm ET on Wednesday, March 25th.
2. Search Twitter for “#CPChatNow.” Make sure you switch the search results from “Top” to “All.”
3. Ask away! Make sure to include “#CPChatNow” in your tweet too.
For anyone without Twitter interested in participating, leave your questions on the CPChatNow Facebook Fan Page. I do a weekly recap for each chat on my own blog and will include all answers to Facebook questions in the recap so you can read the answers. I look forward to your questions!
Photo Credit: Philippa Willitts/Flickr