Link June 2017 Vol 26 Issue 3 - Page 44

cerebral palsy little victories People’s experience of cerebral time carer but she says “I wouldn’t palsy can be vastly different. We have it any other way!” share her story – warts and all. Mum knew I wasn’t intellectually asked writer Jacqui James to disabled by the way I smiled at On Facebook I often see my certain things. Even though Mum friends with cerebral palsy knew I didn’t have an intellectual travelling, doing dance (I’m talking disability, she had to take me to be about moves like Yoga), holding assessed to determine whether I down jobs which are changing would go to a ‘regular’ kindergarten the world and just living their or ‘special’ one for children with semester’s end then transferred lives. And then there’s me! I have intellectual disabilities. Because to TAFE where 99.9% teachers another disability on top of my I couldn’t physically point to welcomed me with open arms. CP and that’s chronic, crippling the red block with my hand, the neuropathic pain. assessor labelled me as severely Everything was finally going to ‘retarded’. However, at the special plan – I was doing well at TAFE, Don’t get me wrong, I have a full kindergarten they soon realised I I had dreams of getting into to a life; I’m a music journalist who had a brain, and I was transferred to Journalism degree, going to pub founded the site Gigs ‘n Interviews a mainstream kindergarten. gigs and maybe living out of home. artists including Ronan Keating. From kindergarten, I attended Then, at the age of 23, I had a life- Ronan took me two full years of Glen Waverley Special School changing incident that left me with trying, but when I received the ‘yes’ (now known as Glenallen) for two a back injury and chronic nerve pain. it was like winning the jackpot. years. Their integration teacher As a result of the incident I had a Why am I beginning with this story? saw how I didn’t belong there and back injury, soft tissue damage and Because most of my life has been she and Mum fought for me to nerve damage. The following years about persistence mixed with a be integrated out. It was a slow were consumed with medical tests, fighting spirit from Mum and I. transition and I remember playing procedures and appointments, up at Glenallen in Grade Two though I stuck it out at TAFE. and have interviewed over 200 Mum was a young mother when she because I was so bored. I now have sciatica 24/7 and more had me. I arrived on October 10, 42 1977, (my Nan’s birthday) – I was Nine years later I completed my frequently a zapping pain in my born breech and came out blue and VCE (year 12) after many battles foot and leg, which is absolutely not breathing. Mum says my first with principals, teachers, an aide crippling. Going over bumps few days were touch and go. When and the Education Department. (especially braille bumps) is I had decided to stay in this world, I then got into a dual-degree at always a trigger. Hopefully my new the doctor advised mum to give Monash Uni and Chisholm TAFE. wheelchair will help, but that’s me up for adoption as I would be a Within two months of being at looking like a decent wait so, in the ‘vegetable’. My devoted Mum is my Monash a lecturer told me I didn’t meantime, Mum, my friends and biggest supporter, advocate and belong at uni, even though I had I have to be careful and mindful. I love her with everything I have. just passed my first assignment, Since January my nerve pain has I know she’s given up countless so six months later I gave them ramped up to ‘200’ some days. opportunities to remain my full- the finger. I stuck it out until the cerebral palsy