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Recently funny man Zach Anner guest starred on ABC’s sitcom Speechless. Naturally you expect his appearance to leave viewers laughing. Although that proved the case, he left an additional impact too. Or so I think. Beyond providing laughs, Zach Anner’s role emphasized the need for role models with cerebral palsy.
WARNING: Minimal spoilers to Speechless season one, episode 20 “R-U-N– RUNAWAY” (aired April 26th, 2017) lay ahead.
Zach Anner’s character Lee’s interaction with JJ DiMeo (Micah Fowler) profoundly impressed me. Before progressing, let us recognize the scene’s significance. Two guys in wheelchairs discussing life on a mainstream television channel! Such a scenario playing out during my childhood seemed farfetched. Yet like Speechless continues demonstrating, change stands afoot.
— Speechless (@Speechless_ABC) April 30, 2017
This small screen transformation can parlay into real life empowerment. My own story emphasizes said importance. Despite my cerebral palsy’s mildness, I still grew up feeling self-conscious. Embarrassed and ashamed among the sentiments I felt.
Sans a role model with cerebral palsy, I lacked positive disability perspective. Thankfully via various life events I came to embrace my CP. Nevertheless I know my embracement happens faster if I discovered a CP role model when a kid. Heck! I write as much in Off Balanced, my detailed journey from embarrassment to embrace over cerebral palsy.
“In retrospect I wish I found a role model with a disability to teach me this valuable lesson growing up. I sincerely hope this book can reach youths coping with disabilities and inspire them.” –Off Balanced, Chapter Eight “Culmination”
Book plug complete, I want to examine the aforementioned positive disability perspective role models with cerebral palsy foster. Precisely exactly how these perceptions form. Truly understand the relationship at hand!
Curing Macaulay Culkin Syndrome
For context, in the above subheading I am referring to Macaulay Culkin’s Home Alone persona Kevin McAllister. Similar to a big old empty house, cerebral palsy may induce isolation. Those without CP cannot possibly understand your experiences after all! Thus loneliness sets.
Finding a role model with cerebral palsy cures the lonesomeness I dubbed Macaulay Culkin Syndrome. Suddenly you identify with someone! Relief rushes throughout your body. Only the beginning to an emotional array!
That’s What She Said!
Additionally, role models supply a glimpse at the future. Yes Michael Scott fans, “That’s what she said!” She referencing JJ’s mother in Speechless, Maya DiMeo (Minnie Driver). Upon spotting Zach Anner’s character Maya comments out loud “Future JJ.”
Seriously, role models provide reassurance and hope. A fact I witness firsthand co-hosting the live weekly cerebral palsy Twitter chat #CPChatNow. Younger participants express frustrations. An older member responds along the lines “I’ve been there. It gets better.” Connecting with somebody who lived through what you currently live, creates tangible hopefulness.
Audio Engineering Life
Establishing a direct connection with your role model takes the benefits even further. The right role model audio engineers your life. Listening to you rant amidst times you need to rant. She offers her wisdom where appropriate.
Risking appearing arrogant, the audio engineer analogy works really well. An audio engineer enhances a musician’s raw talent, increasing the pleasure the listener receives. Meanwhile, communicating with your role model results in you enjoying an enhanced life.
Needing Role Models with Cerebral Palsy!
Considering everything highlighted, one conclusion emerges. We need role models with cerebral palsy! They help combat the loneliness cerebral palsy cause. Plus make hope tangible. Alongside also improve your life courtesy talking problems out.
Perhaps you could name another positive role models with cerebral palsy supplies. Feel free to add to the list. Just comment below.
Until next time, remember. Don’t blend in. Blend out!