To the general public, people with cerebral palsy often lose their individuality. They are seen only as a group with an illness, without any distinctions made between the different kinds of cerebral palsy, the different difficulties and disabilities that the people with them might face, and the different stories of those living with the disease. National Cerebral Palsy Awareness Month and National Cerebral Palsy Awareness Day (March 25th) aim to change that. Since 2011, the United States has set aside this month and this day for teaching everyone the truth about cerebral palsy, from its causes to all of the varied things it actually means for the people who have it, as well as their families and caregivers.
During National Cerebral Palsy Awareness Month, you can learn all sorts of information about cerebral palsy, such as the fact that it affects about 800,000 people in the United States. You can learn that people with cerebral palsy don’t always have developmental disabilities such as epilepsy or autism; in fact, having 1 or more of these disabilities only happens 75 percent of the time. You can learn about the three different types of cerebral palsy—spastic, ataxic, and athetoid—and how they affect the people who have them. You can learn about the fight to find a cure.
Since cerebral palsy is typically diagnosed early in life, during infancy or the preschool years, the Cerebral Palsy Family Network has made a series of videos featuring children with cerebral palsy called “Faces of Cerebral Palsy.” The children in these videos are an inspiration and a motivation to fund the search for a cure, and yet they are also just kids, doing what kids do, caught in a moment of joy or playfulness, reminding us of the human face of cerebral palsy and encouraging us to see the individual behind the illness.