Photo provided by Treven Broxterman
My life growing up with Cerebral Palsy was not that different from a normal childhood. I played sports with all my friends and participated in every activity that kids without disabilities would participate in.
Although I would do everything like a normal kid, I still had a physical disability that needed to be addressed. Therefore, I spent a lot of time at physical therapy, doing exercise after exercise. I attended numerous doctors’ appointments, wore many braces both at school and at home, had a few surgeries, attended more physical therapy and had to do more and more stretches and exercises at home.
My childhood and life fell into that pattern, not always in that order, but that was my life. Eventually, I got to the point where I didn’t have to wear braces constantly. The surgeries became less frequent with my most recent one being my senior year of high school. Doctor’s appointments stopped when I turned eighteen. Physical therapy stopped when the surgeries stopped. Eventually, I fell out of that cycle, but just because I was out of that cycle that I spent so much of my early life in, doesn’t mean my disability went away.
One thing that will never stop is learning how to do things with a disability. Perhaps that is the biggest difference living with a disability. Every day I have trouble doing things that people do without thinking. My disability impacts my fine motor skills, so I don’t have great use of my hand. I can’t hold small objects or rotate my wrist in certain directions, so it makes my life a little bit harder, not impossible, just harder. I have had plenty of time to adapt and learn how to be fairly independent despite my disability, but new challenges come up and I have no choice but to learn how to do it in a different way.
I’ve also been forced to ask for help, which has been extremely hard for me because I am fairly independent, and it frustrates me when I can’t do something without the help of other people. Thankfully, I have great people in my life that are very understanding and more than okay helping me if I need it.
Living with Cerebral Palsy is nothing to be ashamed about. Although it makes life different, the people in my life have played a crucial role in making my life as close to normal as possible. My friends treat me just like they would treat any other person, they rely on me just like they would on their other friends. This isn’t because they don’t “see” my disability, that’s not true at all.
Anyone can look at me and know that I am disabled or at the very least that something is wrong with my right side. My friends are my friends just like anyone else’s friend group. We laugh and joke around, just like anyone else.
While my friends and family are very accepting, a lot of people are not. I have been called names, stared at, laughed at and judged. I think it is expected to be looked at differently if you have some type of physical impairment. Even though it is wrong, it is something people with disabilities have to deal with.
I don’t want anyone to think that my story is sad. I especially do not want anyone to feel sorry for me because there is nothing to feel sorry about. I’m still capable of doing most things someone without a disability can do.
Having a disability is not a setback or a burden. If anything, it opens more doors and provides me with opportunities I would have never thought about. I have given speeches to numerous people about my story to help raise money for a local organization. I have also dealt directly with families who have a child with a disability.
My story is not meant to be inspirational either. My goal is not to be an inspirational person. My goal is to have the best life I can have and help others along the way just like anyone else would do.
Editor’s note: Treven Broxterman is a senior Mass Media Film major at Washburn who is graduating this December. Broxterman was more than happy to share his story with me and I hope all who read his story gain a new perspective and are reminded to be kind to everyone.