October 2016

CP Awareness Month - October

It is hard to believe that a year has passed since I wrote about CP awareness month which takes place every October.   I don’t typically put a lot of value on these “awareness” dates, but I must say that when it comes to CP, I have learned that the more awareness there is around this condition the better off our children are.
You see, when more and more people know and understand what CP is and how it affects our children then the more open those folks are to assist and accommodate our children’s special needs.
By far the most compelling way to raise awareness, is through popular culture.  I wrote a blog about movies to watch with our children a while back.  Recently though there has been an uptick of shows that depict people who have CP.  One such show was “Breaking Bad”.  Though not a show that I would recommend our children watch by any means, it does center around a family coping with life’s challenges in a very unconventional way.  The family includes a teenage boy who has CP.  The boy’s CP presents in gross motor and speech deficiencies.  The boy uses a walker to get around and has obvious articulation challenges.  He is not the focus of the show and plays a supporting role at best, but millions of people watched and enjoyed “Breaking Bad,” so you can imagine the heightened awareness this show brought to CP.  The boy is played by actorRJ Mitte.  In addition, RJ Mitte has become quite out spoken about the need for representation of disabled people in the film industry.  Read here.
I believe that largely due to RJ Mitte, a new show has hit the ABC line-up, “Speechless.”  Here is the information page about the show.  I watched one episode and didn’t enjoy it much, but I did enjoy seeing the interaction of the two parent characters with their son who has CP.  The boy is played by Micah Fowler who had this to say in April 2016 about his role: “I am honored to have the opportunity to play the role of a down-to-earth normal teen living with the challenges of cerebral palsy… I hope as people watch “Speechless,” they get to know JJ as a very normal person, to the point that the don’t even see the disability. I specifically hope to bring a huge amount of public awareness to cerebral palsy and most importantly, my hope is that the show will make people less uncomfortable around people with disabilities and more encouraged to interact with them, to look beyond the physical or other limitation and see the real person, the heart, the personality, the love and yes, even the humor.” Micah Fowler does indeed have CP – it is refreshing that Hollywood is starting to use real actors for the roles where a disability is highlighted.  Here isinformation about Micah Fowler.
So, awareness galore in October of 2016 as the world says “Yes, they can!” Special kids can live normal lives and hold jobs in the entertainment industry as they never have before.  And by doing so, they are setting an example of not only what a person with CP can do but more importantly, those actors, are making CP real and not a condition that our kids have to deal with silently. 
Mayya Saab
P.S. For those of you living in Fairfax County, FCPS is hosting an Assistive Technology Conference on November 12.  Read more here.  See you there!