I was diagnosed with cerebral palsy as a toddler. Through physical therapy from around age 2-4.5, I was able to enter public school without much noticeable. I was extremely lucky.
In my early 20s, to repay, I spent a year volunteering full time at the same CP center, helping the kids out and setting up the computers for UI and such.
Now I’m 46 and my heart is with every person with cerebral palsy. My case was mild and physical therapy helped rewire the motor functions of my brain and while I know it’s not a fix for all people, I know it makes a huge difference.
The center that helped me is still around but somewhat hidden, in these days of integration. It is now known as Jardine Academy Private School and is in Cranford NJ but it was in Union, NJ when I knew it.
I think it’s fantastic that you are giving space for people with CP to have a voice. I think there is a place both for concentrated help (private academy) and for integration into public schools, but in both cases, it’s critical that people with cerebral palsy have made available to them the tools for their voices to be heard and for inclusion in society.
One boy I helped was 21, oldest age for the program. I was 22 at the time and I knew I was looking at me.
I taught him how to type on the computer. I worked with him for an hour – and as far as anybody knew, it was his first time at a keyboard. – and then he motioned for me to “go do something else, I got this”. So I did, and checked up on him now and again.
After a few hours, he was ready.
He had written a beautiful letter to his mother, thanking her for everything, about two pages long.
All the knowledge was in his mind, but he could not speak,and his fingerboards were clearly too primitive for his needs.
I saved it to floppy disk and rushed over to the front office and begged them to print this out for him, which they did.
That was around 1994. Now with the internet, it’s so much better.