On the Concept of Autonomy

autonomy (noun): self-directing freedom and especially moral independence 

The concept of autonomy in relation to living with cerebral palsy has always been fascinating to me, and is worth exploring. Though I do have autonomy in many respects, at times it’s hard not to feel like my disability keeps me from fully expressing myself physically, and from the ability to move in the way that I want to move. As harsh as it may sound, when I’m having a bad day, I feel trapped in my body.

I can’t carry an open cup or container of liquid across from the room, because I’ll drop it without question. I need both arms free in order to walk across the room without crutches, however I sometimes can carry a closed container, for example a sealed bottle of water in one hand, as I walk. These details may seem small, but in actuality they are very important and can make a huge difference in my gait pattern. At times abiding by these details can be incredibly frustrating, and I end up wishing I could just carry the open cup of water from point A to point B without hassle…but that’s not my reality. 

The reality is that my disability controls my movements and limits me physically. I’m not putting myself down and I’m not seeking pity. I’m being realistic. Realism is how I have always coped with having CP, and how I always will.

My disability has always tried to limit me, and I feel like I’m constantly fighting against those limitations, whether it be through physical therapy or exercise or even surgery. Part of having autonomy over my body is by not only establishing ownership over it, but also by knowing my limits.
The more I know about how the CP  affects me, the better chance I have of fighting through it, and furthermore, of defying certain societal expectations of what somebody living with cerebral palsy can do or achieve.