Cerebral Palsy and Abuse

March was Cerebral Palsy (CP) Awareness Month and April was Child Abuse Awareness Month, and I have been wanting to write this post for a while now. This post will cover CP and abuse and mental health issues as May is Mental Health Awareness Month.

Cerebral palsy is a neurological disorder that affects the brain causing difficulty in movement. It can be mild, affect one side of the body, or severe. I have severe cerebral palsy and I can’t physically take care of myself at all. I didn’t breathe for 40 minutes after I was born and they almost gave up on me. I was in the NICU for a couple weeks and I wasn’t expected to live. But I did! I will be 40 in September!

But the lack of oxygen caused the brain damage that led to the CP. I can’t control my muscles and have spasms which are involuntary contractions of the muscles and involuntary movements. I am typical cognitively. I type with my nose and write books and these posts with my nose. My children’s book about my life with CP will hopefully be out at the end of the year. Getting the right illustrators has been hard but I finally found the perfect people to do it and they are doing a wonderful job with it!

Having a severe physical disability is hard but I refuse to let it ruin my life. I am a survivor and I hate pity! I crave acceptance and to be seen as a person! Sadly, many people are not able to see the real me. They see me as a child or subhuman instead of a competent person. I am so much more than my disability.

I prefer person-first language. I am a person with a disability, not a “disabled person.” I am a person with cerebral palsy! I refuse to be defined by my disability. Words like “handicapped,” “cripple,” “retard,” and “spaz” are very offensive to the disability community. We are people who deserve respect and rights and support. But again, despite making progress in this country, some people just refuse to accept and see us.

Children with disabilities are more likely to be abused and bullied. I was. Children that didn’t know me would make fun of me at school. I was also physically, mentally, emotionally, and verbally abused by my parents. As I have written in another blog post, I truly believe that both parents are/were narcissistic which is confusing because they did fight for me for the services that I needed and did care for and loved me, but there was also abuse at home. Some of the abuse that I experienced I recently found out through professional therapy that it was abuse and that I wasn’t protected like I should have been and have been put down even through adulthood. I am now protecting myself from those people and my husband does a wonderful job with helping me.

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What is sad is that in a Facebook group my abuse was questioned by some of the parents and these parents claimed that adults with CP are harder on parents. There’s no evidence that this is the case and all the people I know with CP have wonderful relationships with their parents because they weren’t abused by them. Never ever question the abuse of someone!!

Due to the lack of being able to do what typical children and adults are able to do combined with the abuse and trauma I have suffered, I battle anxiety, CPTSD, PTSD, and depression every day. Sometimes I have it pretty together and other times it is a struggle. The pandemic has heightened everything and I am struggling to get out of it again. I will though. Therapy is helping me.

Having CP is just something I live with like my mental health issues. I try to use my pain to help people. If I can stop one child from being hit or otherwise abused, I will keep advocating and educating people who are willing to learn. My pain and abuse doesn’t define me either but it is something that I live with.

I wish there was more acceptance for people with disabilities and mental health issues. I also wish that people understood that how we treat children will affect their mental health. If one isn’t a white, rich man, it’s still hard to get along in this society and this must change. There should be no stigma for the abused, people with disabilities, or people with mental health issues.

Let’s raise our children to be more aware and accepting. I hope my children’s book that will hopefully be out by the end of the year will help with creating a more zombie accepting world.

The Need To Hurt Others…

My sister-in- law sent me this meme, and I am forever grateful because I am going through a lot right now. I’m far from perfect, but I truly believe that this applies to ALL ages and ALL relationships.

I tell my story and advocate for those who don’t have a voice because I want my pain to do good. If my pain helps others, then it’s all worth it!

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Source is unknown.

 

Christmas, Bullying, And Raising Kind, Compassionate Children.

I can’t believe it’s Christmas time again. Well, it was when I began writing this post.

If you’re anything like me, you enjoy helping others in need all year-round, but especially this time of the year.  There are so many people in need and we are called to help them.

Unfortunately, this time of year also brings out the greediness in many.  You usually see this on Black Friday (which starts on Thanksgiving night now) and just before Christmas when people fight over the products that they must have.

Our children are aware of all of this.  They are also aware of when we are unkind to each other and them. Conversely, they’re also aware of our kindness and compassion for each other.

This is why I was sickened and angered by this dad who forced his daughter to walk to school which is miles away while he videotaped her in order to punish her for bullying.

Punishment is also a form of bullying because it teaches children how to force people to do what they want.  It is a temporary, ineffective solution to any behavioral issues, but especially for bullying.  Most bullying is the result of bullies feeling powerless because there’s either too much control in the home, i.e. authoritarian parenting (very controlling and punitive), or not enough care and acknowledgment, i.e.neglectful and permissive parenting. Some children (and adults) are so desperate for control and power that they will target seemingly weaker people. They push and push until they get the reaction they want and then they feel powerful being over the other person.

While I completely understand the seriousness of bullying as I have been bullied and made fun of my whole life, and I just dealt with a cyber bully, I feel like the dad just reinforced the bully mentality by making his daughter walk to school and video it. 

What did it teach her about kindness and respect? NOTHING! And his demeanor was very punitive and bullyish. Forcing her to walk in the cold while he followed her in his truck and videoed the whole thing is punishment, not a consequence of her actions. And SHE was also bullied herself. Think maybe she was trying to exercise power over others like they had done to her? There is no excuse for bullying, but you have to understand all the reasons why a child is behaving in a certain manner so that you can work with him/her and teach him/her.

Children learn what they live.  As I said, I just recently had a cyber bullying incident that I had to report to Facebook.  Both children and adults get behind their screens and say things that they usually wouldn’t ever say to the other person’s face.  I have not been a bully but I have been harsh online and have had to apologize for my behavior.  Saying anything cruel and calling names is bullying and verbal and emotional abuse!

It’s very important to realize that people of any age that act poorly usually feel poorly.  If one feels good about oneself, usually they don’t have the need to exercise control or get a reaction from another person.  There’s no need to purposefully hurt another person when you have healthy self-compassion.  Bullies are trying to get/do one of two things:

  1.  Exercise control over a weaker person to feel powerful and inflict pain so that someone else can feel the pain that they are feeling.
  2. To get a negative reaction from the victim as well as attention from others.

I would be very upset if I had a child and my child ever bullied another child. Social media and other media outlets are showing bullying to children. So the first two things I would ask if my child was being a bully is “What have I been doing to contribute to this?” And, “Why is my child feeling like he/she has to bully?” There is a reason for all unwanted behaviors.  I would work on the connection between my child and me.

I would limit screen time for my child and insist on knowing every account they have.  Many children and adults have secret accounts for bullying and other inappropriate things that they don’t want anyone else to know about.  It is crucial to be an active participant in our children’s online activities.  We need to stop cyber bullying and teach children that cyber bullying is also never okay.  If they see online bullying, they should put an eyeball 👁 emoji in the comments.  And cyber bullying must always be reported!

I would have many long discussions with my child about why it’s NEVER ok to bully. I would read books with him/her about people who were bullied. I would role play to teach kindness. I would have him/her do community service with me.

Teaching children unconditional kindness is so important.  Unconditional kindness is when we do something kind to someone without expecting any type of reward or credit for it .  This is true kindness.

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Another critical thing I would do is teach my children about all different people and not do anything to criticize differences.  When disability, culture, religion, age, race, and sexuality differences are understood, there’s less bullying because children learn that we’re all humans and we deserve equality and respect no matter what!  This is why I wrote my children’s book about my cerebral palsy which is currently being illustrated.  When we understand someone very different than us, it leads to kindness and compassion (unless the person is mentally ill and unable to be kind).

Finally, I would take the child to and from school and check in with her/his teacher until I could trust him/her again. Gentle parenting is more work than just punishment. Most parents don’t do anything because they don’t know how.

This is an excellent article about helping bullies become more empathetic and compassionate with others.

Understanding what drives bullies is crucial to both stopping and preventing it.  Teaching children empathy and compassion is so important. And Christmas time is a great time to really teach this so it will continue year-long.  When children see and are involved with more giving than receiving, they’re taught about empathy for people who aren’t as well off as they might be.  It also teaches gratefulness and that they are not entitled to get anything.

Christmas and New Years’ is a time to get involved with different charities.  It’s also a time to reflect on our relationships with our children and other people.  Children need our love and a deep connection with us.  They need to see healthy relationships with people.  This is vital for teaching empathy, compassion, and love towards others. They also need us to teach them healthy coping skills for their negative emotions.

I believe most bullies can be reformed if they are worked with for a while.  It may not happen overnight but we have the power to show them what empathy and compassion looks like. We can soften a harden heart by helping them deal with their own pain that is causing them to bully. We can teach them gently that greed and entitlement are bad.

Here is another excellent article about how to deal with bullying.

Children who witness bullying should always report it to a trusted adult.  If they are being bullied, they should do their best not to react and walk away to report it.  I believe teaching children self-defense is also important.  Taekwondo and karate are wonderful ways of accomplishing this!

This Bible verse came up in my devotional recently during my cyber bullying incident. It comforted me and applies to everyone even if one isn’t a believer.

“But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men” (Luke 6:35, NASB).

As we enter the new year, may we use gentle parenting to prevent bullying and raise kind, compassionate children!  I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas and will have a happy, healthy, blessed New Year!

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