by Alex Diaz-Granados

My life with cerebral palsy is a personal journey, a story of overcoming struggles and becoming a stronger person because of them. I was born prematurely and put in an incubator. A nurse made a mistake that left me deprived of oxygen for a period of time that was long enough to cause brain damage. Because of that I ended up with a permanent disability in the form of cerebral palsy.

This neurological condition, which is always caused by brain damage but damage that can happen in a variety of ways, is one that mostly affects muscles and movement. Cerebral palsy symptoms vary widely depending on the severity of the brain damage and which nerves are affected. For me the symptoms have been mild, but for some people living with this disability the symptoms are debilitating.

Cerebral palsy has affected me by making certain movements difficult or awkward. I struggle with fine motor skills, like buttoning a shirt, I walk with a foot that drags a little, and some of my movements are involuntary. Otherwise, I function well and like any other adult.

As a child I had to learn to live with these challenges and I can credit my mother with making sure I would be independent, that I would solve the problems on my own. She insisted that I do the things that were harder for me, like tying my own shoes, even if it took longer. She pushed me to live my life like any other kid, and for that I cannot thank her enough. Her support, along with the guidance of occupational therapist and physical therapists, is why I am a successful adult today.

Now I share my story with others, through and with anyone I meet who wants to know more about this disability. By sharing and talking about it we take away the stigma of living with cerebral palsy.