How Cerebral Palsy has influenced my life and helped me achieve so much

As it is Cerebral Palsy awareness month, I wanted to share some of my experiences and how they have brought me to where and what I am doing today.

I have had CP all my life and to me my life is normal (well as normal as normal is!) I life live to the full and enjoy everything that I do.  I try to show everyone that I can do everything even though it might be a struggle, my friends call me annoying and stubborn which makes me laugh – I just see myself as determined and up for a challenge.

Yes, there are things that I find hard, mainly the simple things in life – like using a knife and fork (thank god for the invention of a one-hand knife and fork). I don’t like zips or buttons as they can be annoying and up till a couple of years ago tying up shoelaces was hit and miss – until I was told about Zubits (a strong magnet for laces) they are amazing but not if you trap your finger!

Life has not always been so inclusive and easy for me. I struggled in school, felt different and was treated badly and differently by people in my class I struggled to find my place in society, but the older I got and the way disability is seen in today’s world has given me the confidence to just be me, and take what life throws at me.  There are still times where people shock me, for example staring and laughing at me in the street, taken the mickey out of me in the supermarket (at the same time of them teaching their daughter is fine to mimic someone doing something different) but the majority are more understanding.

Claire throwing discus at a CP World Games When I was 16 an amazing thing happened – I found sport and I was doing something on the same level as others and I wasn’t different, things didn’t have to be adapted for me and I felt part of a big family. Athletics was something that I worked hard at and I got my reward competing on the world stage.  The whole experiences in those years had a major impact on my life, not just because it was something, I was good at but it helped me accept things, be included and noticed by others for just being Claire, but most of all it helped my happiness wellbeing in life.  I was at last fully comfortable and for the first time proud to have CP.

Having been made redundant in 2017 and having so much personal experience connected to being “disabled”, I set up Ability Consultancy to break down the barriers and stigma of disability using sport and practical learning.  The best way for anyone to have an insight into some of the simple struggles in life is to experience it, so Ability Consultancy has developed a series of workshops/training sessions for people to learn about disability and using a wide range of simulation equipment experiencing some of the basic everyday tasks. Such sessions should be in every companies training as you never know when you may need to support disabled people.