I feel eyes follow me whenever I leave the house. They may be watching me talk to my service dog or service dog in training. You may see me push a grocery cart with one hand while driving my chair with the other. Sometimes another adult will feed me all or part of my meal that way I get more in my stomach than on my clothes. I know you are looking, and that’s okay, curiosity is a good thing In this continuing series on living with Cerebral Palsy I’ll tell you some common questions/reactions I’ve gotten when I’ve gone out and most likely answer some questions you never thought to ask.
- Can she/you talk? Yes, I can, very well in fact. I personally don’t mind this question as much as some people with CP might. Some of us are nonverbal and it is a reasonable question. What I do mind is when the question is directed to the able-bodied person with me, assuming I can’t answer for myself. When in doubt always presume competence of the disabled person and talk to them directly, if the disabled person has problems communicating someone with them will probably help. Also please be patient with those who use a communication device, they can contribute to conversations just like anybody else.
- What’s wrong with you/why can’t you walk/do you have feeling in your legs? If I had a dime for every time someone asked this our money issues wouldn’t be issues. My answer depends on the age of the person who is asking, the younger the person is the shorter the answer and the more patient I am. I am not as patient with adults because the next question of their mouth is:
- Can you have sex? Yes, I have been asked this by guys that I just met in very public places, like grocery stores, not joking.
- Can/should you have children? The person who asks this is usually a woman. Firstly, unless you work in my doctor’s office it’s none of your business. Every doctor I’ve asked has said I should be fine. Secondly, why do some folks think that they are entitled to the answer?
- Is that your brother?(People ask when they see me and Oz together) No, he is definitely not my brother. It is worth noting that Oz isn’t too fond of overt public affection until this happens, then he has no problem correcting someone’s mistake very obviously.
- Can I pet your dog? Most of the time the answer is yes. That said, if you catch us on a day when the answer is no, please respect that answer. Pixie can be way more reactive than her chill surfer beach blonde brother Gideon.Being more reactive just means it may take a little longer to adjust to a new situation. If I say no it’s because I think she has enough to absorb today without having a stranger interact with her. It’s not meant as a slight. Thanks for understanding.