It’s been a while since I’ve written a blog post. This is due to the fact that I have been busy working with a wonderful illustrator that has finally completed the illustrations for my children’s book about my life with severe cerebral palsy. This was a very traumatic experience for me as “friends” wouldn’t finish the book’s illustrations in a timely manner. I was able to raise the money back with GoFundMe and the book is completed! George Franco is an amazing illustrator. I’m beyond grateful for his work and commitment to the project!
As I have written in previous posts, the book is based upon my life with severe cerebral palsy. We used actual photos of me both as a child and adult in order for the illustrations to show how I require very specific seating and care. It also shows how, with the help of my family and friends, I can overcome most obstacles to do what I want. It might look different but there’s usually a way around things.
I have yet to see any other picture books that accurately portray severe cerebral palsy. That’s why I wrote this book and was very specific about the illustrations showing how my wheelchair always has a lot of support to hold me in the proper sitting position as I can’t sit up on my own at all. I would fall right out of a standard wheelchair.
In the current environment of a group of people who are hateful toward anyone who doesn’t stand/measure up to their “agendas,” it is even more important to have a book that is all inclusive. It has every race, ethnicity, ability, and gender in it. I believe it is vital to fight for equality for human equality! Everyone is human and we are all equal!
I also want children like me to have a book that is inspiring to them. I want a child with any severe disability, especially those with cerebral palsy, to know that there’s hope. Even if the adults around them are telling them they will never achieve their goals and dreams, they can look at my book and just keep fighting for what they want to achieve!
Compassion is something that is in short supply in society today, and yet, there are many compassionate people out there who are advocating for people who are being oppressed and treated horribly by the new right-wing movement. It’s truly scary. The most abused children are often either disabled or in the LBGTQ+ communities. I want to stop this abuse from happening. I want today’s children to be taught compassion and kindness for all!
Unfortunately, Covid is still a problem for many in the disability community. We often have reduced lung capacity, asthma, and other health issues that are still making it more likely that we would get severe Covid and potentially die. Most of us are up-to-date on the Covid vaccines but some of us, such as myself, can’t swallow Paxlovid because the pills are too large and can’t be crushed. People are moving on from Covid and just don’t think about those of us are still going to great lengths to avoid getting it until there are better vaccines and treatments available for everyone to take and be okay. While my book is about my life pre-Covid, I still hope to use it to help people who are willing to truly listen and understand in order to be more aware of the vulnerable. I cling to hope that I will be able to live my life as I did prior to the pandemic someday soon.
Teaching children accurate information about disability is crucial in keeping society inclusive to all. Here are some examples of how to teach children about disability:
- Instead of telling children not to stare, talk about how cool the wheelchair is or how incredible it is to walk with crutches. Point out how the person is also alike. For example, “It looks like her favorite color is green.”
- When children ask “What’s wrong with him/her,” tell them that nothing is wrong with the person. The person just has a different body and/or brain and this is okay! We are all different and unique.
- With Covid, please stand a certain distance from the person and ask him/her if you and your children may ask a few questions. I love answering questions from children! I also want adults to ask me questions instead of just assuming things about me that may or not be true.
- Watch TV shows and movies about/featuring people with disabilities. Some examples of TV shows and movies are Speechless, Born This Way, Love on the Spectrum, As We See It, My Left Foot. Just search any streaming service and you’ll find all sorts of great shows and movies about and/or with people with disabilities. Some are more appropriate for younger audiences, of course, than others, but it’s important to let children learn about disability.
- Read books about disabilities. There are tons of books for every age about different disabilities.
Love over hate is the goal we’re aiming for. Equality is also the aim. Nobody is better than anyone else; we all have human blood running through our veins!
I will keep you posted on when my new children’s book is available. Thank you so much to everyone who donated to my GoFundMe campaign last year!