This is what you need to know about Cerebral Palsy

Myth-busting the common misconceptions surrounding people who have CP

“We are just like everyone else - we have dreams and aspirations, and we want to be treated with equality and respect.”

Earlier this year, our survey revealed that almost a quarter (24%) of the British public don’t know what cerebral palsy is, with an additional two-fifths (41%) saying they have limited understanding of the condition.

With this in mind, we got in touch with blogger Chloe Tear - university student and Head Ambassador for CP Teens UK - to fill in the gaps of the public’s knowledge and help clear up any misconceptions.

Read on to find out what Chloe had to say:

What is CP?

“Cerebral Palsy is a large spectrum of a disability and it will affect everyone differently. However, it is caused by brain damage that occurs around the time that you are born. It is possible that CP only affects one limb (like a hand or leg) or it could affect all four limbs. This damage results in difficulties in movement (shaking movement or poor muscle control), balance and coordination.

“Similarly, depending on the area of the brain that has been damaged, it can also affect speech, vision, breathing and swallowing. The vast majority of people with CP have average intelligence and our lack of physical control does not mean that we are capable of achieving everything that everyone else does. Having CP does affect our daily lives, yet I would like to think that we can achieve the same as an able-bodied person - just in a different way.”

What would your advice be if someone is worried they may say or do the wrong thing?

“Always ask. We will have lived with this disability for our whole life so probably will have been asked the same question that you are thinking of. I personally would not be offended by any question, as long as the individual’s question was out of genuine interest. Please do not assume that we require your help - we can be very independent people - but asking us is not a problem in the slightest!”

What are the common misconceptions about CP that you’ve come across?

“Other people often think we have a lower IQ as a result of not being able to walk properly or because we are in a wheelchair. They mistake the brain damage for damage to all of our brain. It is possible for someone with CP to also have their intelligence impaired, due to everyone being affected differently, but this is often not the case.

“Also, because of the way CP affects our movement, I am often accused of being drunk, when in fact I am completely sober! This is made even more complex when you are on a night out with friends.”

What do you wish the general public knew about CP as a condition?

“I would like the general public to know that although CP is a condition that technically does not change, the effect it has on our bodies changes all of the time. This can explain why we may use a wheelchair on a part-time basis. When you have CP it means you can use three to five times more energy than an able-bodied person - meaning we can tire very quickly! Also, people with CP may achieve things in a different way than you would yourself, but that does not mean that their way of doing it is wrong, we just adapt to our situations.”

What do you wish the general public knew about people who have CP?

“We are just like everyone else - we have dreams and aspirations, and we want to be treated with equality and respect. By having CP it can make things more challenging and at times this can be overwhelming. However, we can find tremendous joy in life and love every aspect of our life - it is certainly not all doom and gloom. Similarly, with the right adaptations we can, and will, achieve. The general public should never underestimate someone with cerebral palsy!”

You can read Chloe’s blog ‘Life as a Cerebral Palsy student’ here:


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