Sophie Abel as a Child
Disability, My Life, Student Life

Early years

I have had Cerebral  Palsy since I was born, I have faced various obstacles and at times have been subjected to snide remarks, however I refuse to let this faze me.

Hi. Welcome to my first blog post. My name is Sophie and I have Cerebral Palsy and I am a full-time electric user. My disability affects three out of my four limbs—this is known as cerebral triplegia, one of the classifications of Cerebral Palsy. For me, it affects both my legs and my left arm. It also affects me slightly on my right side but I am still able to use it, although I do sometimes need help gripping things and balancing items.

I have had Cerebral  Palsy since I was born, I have faced various obstacles and at times have been subjected to snide remarks, however I refuse to let this faze me.

This blog aims to show my life with cerebral palsy—including access to venues and faculties—and will also contain reviews of films, attractions, student life and restaurants. But to get started, I decided it will be best to start at the beginning. My diagnosis and the issues I had with inclusion at school—mainly in P.E.

Primary School

Having a diagnosis of a disability from birth has it’s challenges. From infancy, people outside your close net of family don’t expect you to achieve much—something my parents came across when it was time I started primary school (elementary in the US).

At the age of four, my mom and dad took me to see someone at the Birmingham Education Authority who would assess my needs and tell us whether I was able to go to a mainstream school or what they call a special school—a school that specialises in teaching children with disabilities.

Though my mom and dad were putting forward a case that I would manage within mainstream education, the assessors were adamant that I should attend a special school. This was until I told my parents that I needed to go to the bathroom. It was only then when the assessor realised that I was actually in control of all my faculties. This little thing is what convinced him that I could handle a mainstream school after all…

Finally, I was enrolled at a local primary school. It was great. While I can’t remember much about the infants (Nursery-Year 2—this is kindergarten-Grade 2 in the US) section of primary school, I remember I was so excited and enthusiastic.  As I progressed through the years and into the Juniors (years 3-6), I found that both the teachers and teaching assistants were very supportive and encouraging.

Knowing that I wanted to succeed, they gave me various 1-2-1 mentoring and tutoring sessions so that I was able to catch up with my classmates. They also taught me various basic life skills that helped me with my confidence and my independence. I was also not the only disabled student at the school, which was a relief, especially as a lot of them were in the same year as me.

In regards to disability inclusion, I was very happy. This was a result from the encouragement I received from the teachers and from my classmates attempts to include me in everything. I was apprehensive that this was just a front and that they would ignore me in the playground. But no, they were very friendly and accepting; they even made up games so I could be involved.

Overall, my primary school was good and I was very happy at primary school. I received more issues when I transferred to secondary school (high school).

Secondary school and P.E

When I went to mainstream secondary school, I attended classes like everyone else. I didn’t encounter many difficulties in my lessons with the exception of my PE lessons.

Because of the severity of my cerebral palsy, I use a wheelchair and can only use a wheelchair to move, so a lot of the PE activities were hard for me to get involved in. While I noticed this issue in primary school, it wasn’t much of an issue but I was obligated to participate in each of my lessons, including P.E, in secondary school. Yes, I tried to object. Unfortunately, my voice was ignored and I still had to complete P.E.

On the other hand, during each PE lesson my teachers were inclusive and tried to adapt the activities so I could join in. The attempt was appreciated but it didn’t work and I felt awkward and ridiculed during the lessons despite trying my best.

I felt everyone in my class was silently feeling resentful against me as this wasn’t how PE was supposed to be and so they made me feel uncomfortable. Despite all of this, I continued to try and be my stubborn self and didn’t let my disability get me down but rather to urge me forward into every situation. I didn’t let anyone tell me I cant do something.

Soon though, I had to finally accept that PE was too difficult and it was better to channel my energy and focus in something else.

I tried to find sporting clubs that did the same activities I could participate in, but which are catered to children and young people with disabilities. One of the teaching assistants told me about a sports club at my local special school – specifically for those with disabilities, some of those in wheelchairs.

Interested, I decided to check it out. What I saw was great, there was an equal amount of children and young people in wheelchairs and those who had other forms of disabilities. All of the activities were adapted accordingly so everyone could all join in.

Loving this I began to go to this sports club every Tuesday after school. During the week I attended regular lessons in mainstream school but when I struggled in certain lessons (particularly PE), I knew I had the sports at my Tuesday club to think about and get me through it.

While I was at the after school sporting club, I made many friends. These friends were both in wheelchairs and some who were not in a wheelchair but also had a form of disability.  I was able to form close friendships with each of one of them and we became a close group.

Having similar disabilities to these people allowed me to relax a little more and be a different person. I could relate to them in a way that I wasn’t able to from my friends from school.

I will have more on this soon. Any questions? What are your experiences with mainstream and special schools and how did you cope with sports?

Thanks for reading, hope you enjoyed it. Don’t forget to subscribe! Sophie.



3 thoughts on “Early years”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.