For a couple years now, I have been working to educate the world that the abilities of children with cerebral palsy should not be underestimated. As you can see from my other posts and the adventures of my son, Christopher, at AdventuresWithChristopher.com, I believe in him and his ability to do hard things. This morning, I attended a groundbreaking ceremony with my two boys. Ben sat in a chair to my left, and Christopher sat in his wheelchair to my right. I loved it. After the ceremony, a beautiful young lady named Jennifer wheeled up next to us in a motorized wheelchair and started asking questions about Christopher. She spoke in a halting pattern consistent with many people with cerebral palsy. We discussed the fact that she was attending Brigham Young University majoring in math, and desires to be a teacher. She was obviously very smart.
As we discussed Christopher, while he was playing his various games and listening to music on his IPAD, she noticed how good he is at navigating through the various apps and songs. I proudly bragged about how well Christopher can use his IPAD and choose his favorite songs to play. She queried, "Can he read?" I instantly responded, "No."
After hearing my quick response, the tone of her labored voice became a little firm, as she chastised, "How do you know he cannot read?" I was taken back by her kind rebuke. I have prided myself throughout Christopher's life in my belief in his ability to do anything he sets his mind to--sometimes with some appropriate accommodations. Jennifer continued her inquest and said, "If he can choose his favorite songs day after day, don't you think he can read?" I sat there with the spring sunshine warming my skin from the outside and some embarrassment warming my body from the inside. After a few moments of thought, I concluded that Christopher can in fact read. Perhaps he does not read books like many of us, but he does recognize words, titles, and symbols that he is exposed to in his day-to-day life.
I am grateful to Jennifer for helping me correct my thinking error this morning when I wrongfully understated his abilities. Next time you are faced with a question of "Can you do this?" or "Can he/she do that?" remember that we are all children of our Heavenly Father with infinite potential.