Hi! My name is Chloe Tear, I am 19 years old and I'm a university student studying Psychology and Child Development. I have mild cerebral palsy which affects the left side of my body as a result of being born 8 weeks early and weighing 3lb 3oz, as well as epilepsy, chronic pain and impaired vision. During this blog, I will talk about what it’s like being a student who may face a few more hurdles than most. I hope you're able to follow my educational journey because anything can happen!
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Assignments, social attitudes and a lot of coffee!
Now you wouldn’t class this as your typical ‘student Saturday night’, but here I am writing a blog post and in all honesty it is probably a better option considering how busy my week has been! Halfway through the second semester of university can only mean two things, reading week (AKA no lectures for a week) and assignments.
One of the assignments that I completed this week was about social attitudes, more specifically the attitudes around disability, which actually made me stop and think. We live in a world where disability is often betrayed as a negative, it is seen as a weakness. When in reality is that really true? Yes, it may cause a weakness in some respect, for me that is a physical weakness, but is that a weakness of character or make me any less human than the next person- of course not! Yet when searching ‘stereotypes of disability’ this is the first thing that came up: “Tragic figures whom society should pity. According to them, the burden of disability is unending; life with a disabled person is a life of constant sorrow and agony and that the able-bodied stand under a continual obligation to help them.” Let’s stop there before this all gets entirely absurd!
When in fact, attitudes towards disability can be positive. Not only that, but it has been proven that if the individual has more interaction with someone who has a disability then their attitudes can only improve. All of this can be extremely useful for inclusion and continually demonstrates the need for including disabled children and adults within the community and allowing more mainstream schools to take on pupils with SEN. By doing so, this will not only mean the general public have a more positive attitude towards disability but also provide the disabled individual with a positive self- image, which surely is just as important.
I believe change is just around the corner.
Diversity is becoming more and more accepted within society and it is just so exciting to be the generation to be at the front of this revolution. Slowly people are learning that I am not an inspiration for getting out of bed, that it is not incredible if I leave the house and that it is not a shock if I don’t know your friend who happens to use a wheelchair. That change may be small in all of the world’s problems, but it is a change that will lead onto a fully inclusive place to live- now wouldn't that be wonderful?!
I certainly consider charities like Scope have allowed this to progress over recent years. They have been running ‘End the Awkward’ campaigns for three years to promote a more positive attitude towards disability. These campaigns have ensured that all blog posts, adverts, YouTube videos and pictures follow a positive message about disability, as well as making the disabled individuals relatable and showing how this kind of interaction should not be awkward. I have been so fortunate to be one of those individuals who has been allowed to be part of this. I have had the chance to be part of such a positive movement within Scope and be someone who can change the attitudes that people have about disability. I may write a blog about Cerebral Palsy, and yes this blog is a very big part of my life (because what else would I do on a Saturday night?), but I hope you see me for more than that.
I hope you don’t just see me as a disabled person, but as a writer, a friend, a psychology student, as an individual who probably owns way too many floral dress… yet will most definitely buy more. People are way more than the conditions that they have, the fact that this is starting to be known by society makes the future even more exciting.
Anyone want to finish my other assignment for me? No, don’t blame you!
In order for me to complete university away from home, and get to lectures in one piece- a PA (Personal Assistant) has been vital in me being able to be as independent as possible. I have actually enjoyed the process of hiring PA’s despite it being a little stressful to find one in time. Yet, when looking for a PA, it had to be someone who could drive as well as being capable to suit all of my needs. By having a car it would mean that I could get to hospital appointments easily. However, when advertising it was often extremely hard to find someone who was fairly young (not that this is essential!), was capable of the job, could drive and was okay being with people aged 19- 21 all of the time. After 30+ applications it became clear this was all quite a big ask! Who knows my full medical history? Who would have experience in Cerebral Palsy, seizures and visual impairment? Who can drive and wouldn’t mind being with young adults all day? Who would actually quite enjoy lectures? There is a…
Dear Chloe, You're currently 7 years old and are about to embark on a journey of a lifetime. This journey will show you the world in a completely new light, it will show you things you never thought you would see, and allow you to meet people you might otherwise have never met. Unfortunately, this journey is tough, it will test you past the limits you thought you had and cause so much frustration and upset- but you are capable of overcoming this, you can find tremendous joy in every aspect of your life. You have just been diagnosed with mild cerebral palsy. You have never heard of this, and have no idea what it is! But don't worry- mum's done lots of research and has your back! These hospital appointments may seem strange, and unnecessary as you don't think anything is wrong, but it will all become clear with time. Ever wondered why you walk on your toes and fall over more than your friends? Ever wondered why you can't hop, struggle with maths and feel tired? Or hav…
I am a part-time wheelchair user, this means that one day I can use my chair, and the next I can be walking with my stick. Being able to use a wheelchair on a part-time basis allows me to managed my energy levels and reduce pain, allowing me to function more effectively in everyday life. I am exactly the same person whether I use my stick or my chair, so why does the behaviour of others sometimes change?
Over the last few years, I have noticed people act differently to me depending on the equipment that I am using at that time, yet it was when doing my food shopping, of all things, that made me realise what those differences were.
I've noticed that when I use my stick, people don't tend to mind. I sometimes get a few inquisitive looks as they tried to figure out why a 19- year- old is using a walking stick, but apart from that it is fine. People in shops talk to me, telling me how much the items cost and expect me to pay- good job really considering it is my food for the week…