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Cerebral Palsy - Cerebral Palsy Introduction - A Definition Of Cerebral Palsy, What This Book Does

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Kenneth, now age twelve, remembers what it was like for him to grow up as a child with cerebral palsy:

When I was about a year old, my mom first realized that something was wrong with me. I couldn't sit up straight, I couldn't stand, I was still crawling on the floor and pulling myself along with my hands. When my mother finally spoke to my pediatrician about it, he referred her to another doctor. The other doctor couldn't see me for like six months because he had so many other appointments. But when we did get to see him, he told my parents that he thought I had cerebral palsy. He said he couldn't be sure, and he sug gested that my mom go to United Cerebral Palsy, which is an organization that specializes in the care of kids with cerebral palsy. The doctors there did a lot of tests on me — they measured some of my movements and watched me a lot — and they agreed. I did have CP. By then I was two.

I was classified as a spastic quadriplegic, which means I had some spasticity in my arms and legs. Spasticity is like stiffness, so when I moved my arms and legs they jerked instead of moving in a smooth way. And when I tried to walk, my legs would cross so I could take only about four steps before losing my balance and falling down.

I got into the Cerebral Palsy Program. The main purpose of this program was to make me independent. The people at the program taught me important skills, like how to get into and out of my clothing. They even toilet trained me, which wasn't so easy. Imagine how difficult it was for me to learn how to use the toilet when I was hav ing trouble just keeping my balance while stand ing up! I was in the program for only a few hours a day at first, and as I got older it was like a reg ular school from nine to three. I stayed in the pro gram until I was about six years old.

Besides helping me, the people at the Cerebral Palsy Program really helped my parents. There's a branch near where we live and my mom and dad got very involved with the parents' support group. One of the problems that parents of kids with disabilities have is finding baby-sitters to take care of their kids so they can go out once in a while, like for dinner or a movie. The parents in the support group all took turns baby-sitting for each other. Since all the kids had CP, all the par ents knew exactly what to do.

I'm in the sixth grade now, and I do pretty well in school. I have some great friends, and all my teachers have gotten to know me over the years. And absolutely, my favorite subject is science. I think that when I get older and go to college, I'd like to study all about the human body and become a research scientist. I want to work to help people just like me.

Cerebral Palsy - Cerebral Palsy Then and Now - Then: A History, Now: Some New Discoveries, Just What Exactly Is Cerebral Palsy? [next]

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