Sometimes able-bodied people may feel uncomfortable speaking with someone with cerebral palsy. Here are some suggestions on how to overcome your hesitations and get to know someone with cerebral palsy.
Sometimes people with CP might have less motor-control than yours, so you might think you’re going to offend them by offering to shake their hand. Just extend your hand and allow your new friend to shake it if they want to.
Don’t you hate it when someone is talking about you when you’re right in front of them? People with CP feel the same way. Resist the temptation to speak to someone with CP through someone else.
They are an adult, after all. The only time this isn’t true: when you’re speaking with a kid who has CP.
To someone with CP, a wheelchair or other assistive device is like an extension of themselves. Don’t touch it unless they invite you (like: “Hey, can you push me there?”). You wouldn’t like it if some stranger started grabbing or leaning on you either.
Sometimes people with CP have difficulty speaking. Listen patiently and actively, letting them speak for themselves. Don’t you hate it when someone tries to finish your sentences, too? If you don’t understand them say, “I don’t understand” or “Could you repeat that?” rather than fake it. It is less frustrating for someone with CP to repeat themselves than deal with someone who pretends they understand.
They don’t “suffer” from CP. They are a person first - they just happen to have cerebral palsy. Want to know more about them, it’s okay to ask, “If you don’t mind me asking, why do you walk like that?” but not “What’s wrong with you?” Me? What’s wrong with YOU!
“Hey, do you want to run to the store?” D’oh! That’s okay; it’s just a figure of speech