March is National Cerebral Palsy Awareness Month -a chance to celebrate and raise awareness of the condition. As someone who has lived with the condition for over 40 years, these are some things I think people should know about Cerebral Palsy:

It’s typically caused as the result of an accident or trauma in early childhood and is usually diagnosed before the age of three.

Cerebral Palsy affects everyone differently. In my case, it affects my speech, muscle movement and co-ordination. However, the condition has many symptoms and people experience it differently.

Typically, the condition isn’t progressive so the injury to the brain remains the same though the symptoms may change over time.  Over the years, I’ve had new symptoms and like with everything, I think ageing can make the condition more challenging.

In the UK, every 1 in 400 births results in a diagnosis of Cerebral Palsy and perhaps surprisingly, that figure is rising.

Cerebral Palsy can’t be cured but there are lots of treatments which can help manage the condition.  As a child, I had physiotherapy and speech therapy though I find as an adult, the support provided dwindles.

Having Cerebral Palsy can present many challenges – though it has to be said that the majority of the challenges I face are attitudinal! But despite this, I live an independent and fulfilling life. For me, the condition hasn’t prevented me from achieving anything.

Similarly, having Cerebral Palsy doesn’t stop people from achieving academically in education or securing employment. I have a 2:1 Honours degree and following graduation, I worked in the charitable sector. I now work for myself as a Disability Speaker, as well as working as an Expert by Experience for Birmingham City University.  I love the variety of the work that I do and I believe my condition has led me to where I am right now – I count myself as lucky to be doing work that I love!

Finally, being disabled hasn’t stopped me from becoming a Mummy!  I have two boys – Jack, 10 and Niall, 4.  As expected,  this has presented additional challenges – all of which have been well worth it!  The boys understand that I’m different to other mums and have taken it all in their stride!  I think and hope that having a mum with a disability will make them more aware and welcoming of others differences.

I hope this has given you a positive insight into Cerebral Palsy as we start our annual awareness month.  If you would like to book a Cerebral Palsy awareness session for your work place, please contact me.