STAN: Alex, can you give me a brief description of what Cerebral Palsy Guidance is about?
ALEX: Cerebral Palsy Guidance (CPG) is a website that provides information about cerebral palsy (CP), a disability that affects approximately 764,000 children and the adults in the U.S. alone. CPG was created primarily as a resource for parents of children with CP to give them information about the disability, what treatments are available, what kinds of medical and legal assistance exist, and to dispel some of the myths that surround CP. That having been said, though, we also want to reach the general public and increase awareness about cerebral palsy, which is the most common movement disorder that affects kids.
STAN: Wow, 764,000 people affected is a huge number! Alex, Can you tell me a little bit about yourself and how you got involved in this work?
ALEX: Well, I’m a Miami-based freelance writer, online reviewer, and aspiring novelist – and I happen to have cerebral palsy. I was a preemie, and I acquired CP shortly after birth when a nurse placed me in an incubator – and took a bit too long to turn on the oxygen supply. It was only a momentary lapse, but thus, there was some damage in the motor control region of my brain. Luckily, I fell in love with the written word as a young boy, and I decided that I’d be a writer when I was 14.
As to how I got involved with CPG: I was asked to write a blog for the site in January of 2016. I was writing movie and book reviews for the now-closed Examiner.com at the time, plus I was gearing up to start writing my first novel. But CPG’s chief writer, Leigh Egan, emailed me not long after the New Year and asked me if I would like to be a regular blogger and share with readers what it’s like to live with CP. I’m not a researcher or a legal expert, mind you, but I do know about the challenges of daily existence as a disabled person in 21st Century America. So, I said “yes,” and here we are.
STAN: Alex, could you tell me more about the intersectionality of Cerebral Palsy with being LGB or T? Why is this important to discuss?
ALEX: I’m not LGB or T, but some of my friends are, so I am aware of the challenges they face today. I can identify with the LGBT community’s struggles to gain acceptance in a society where some people still believe that sexual orientation is an anomalous “lifestyle” or “choice” rather than an innate trait. People with CP, whether they’re gay or straight, are still sometimes looked upon as freaks or “damaged” individuals who should be shunned. Disabled people, of course, aren’t vilified or – as in the Pulse shooting in Orlando – targeted by zealots as LGB and T people are, but we still face discrimination and mockery. Look at that disabled New York Times reporter that President-elect Donald Trump made fun of during the campaign. Trump scornfully mimicked his physical disability because he didn’t like the man’s reporting or his probing questions! So for me, the intersectionality of individuals with CP and the LGBT community isn’t about sexual orientation. It’s about human rights.
STAN: What can allies do to educate themselves about the Cerebral Palsy / LGBT intersection and what actions can they take?
ALEX: I think that dialogue and participative interaction is the best way for people to understand each other. I’m not sure that disabled people in general have a negative worldview about the LGBT community – some people with CP are LGB or T, too. Maybe a small percentage of individuals with CP may have some prejudices about gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender persons, mostly because of their religious upbringing, but others, especially millennials, are more accepting. But by and large I think both groups (disabled and LGBT) get along well.
STAN: How can people learn more?
ALEX: If anyone wants more information about cerebral palsy, its causes, treatments, and what resources are available, there is Cerebral Palsy Guidance. CPG is one of the best sites on the Web, with well-written and researched articles by a dedicated staff. You can find it at https://www.cerebralpalsyguidance.com/
STAN: Thank you for the insights, Alex. Keep up your great work and I look forward to staying in touch and seeing your first novel.
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NOTE: FYI – here is a link to Alex’s LinkedIn Profile to learn more about him.