Spend enough time in the cerebral palsy (CP) community and you will come to learn and maybe even actually hear the phrase. “If you know one person with cerebral palsy, then you know ONE person with cerebral palsy.”
Admittedly the CP community does not hold exclusivity over that lesson. Personally I heard the same principle applied to the autism community, also most recently the Down syndrome population. In fact the latter occurred during a phone interview for Think Inclusive I conducted with Zeno Mountain Farm co-founder Will Halby. You can read Will’s exact comments below.
“I know probably 500 people who have been diagnosed with Down syndrome and they are all very different from each other. They’re more different from each other then most of me and my friends who don’t have Down syndrome.”
The comments really appeal to what Zeno Mountain Farm values, friendship. For those unfamiliar with Zeno Mountain Farm, allow me to give a brief synopsis.
You know what? No! Pause here for a moment and read the highlights from my interview with Will over at Think Inclusive, “Inclusion Spotlight #005: Zeno Mountain Farm.” Link opens up in a new tab so just switch back when done.
What did you think? Go ahead and leave a comment below in the comment section. Will’s insights could certainly spark great conversation between you and me. Now I probably should get back to his specific remark quoted above, aka today’s topic.
Reflecting on my own work as an advocate I notice contradiction. In efforts to create cerebral palsy awareness I’m quick to point out how CP differs person to person, like I do in my video “If Hulk Hogan had cerebral palsy…”
Meanwhile my memoir Off Balanced I’m targeting commonalities. I tell my story hoping to provide comfort to those going through similar situations. Yet amidst commonalities emerges differences. Enter into evidence my recent blog post “Acceptance Through Shared Interests” (published at the Handicap This website).
As the title suggests, the commonality involves finding acceptance through shared interests. The difference surfaces with the shared interest itself. Mike Berkson from Handicap This uses movies and I Cleveland Indians baseball.
So perhaps instead viewing my work as contradicting, I’m actually uncovering a bigger truth. If you know one person, you know one person. We all possess similarities and differences. Certain feedback to Off Balanced comes to my mind. A reader who battled depression in high school contacted me and shared how despite our different situations he related to my experiences. He found similarities.
Similarities and differences go beyond cerebral palsy. Similarities and differences go beyond autism. Similarities and differences go beyond Down syndrome. Heck, similarities and differences go beyond disability. A bookworm or a redhead for instance might connect to the self-consciousness I document in Off Balanced because ultimately similarities and differences remain engrained in human nature.
Want to explore our similarities and differences? Download Off Balanced to your Kindle or Nook. After reading, contact me and let me know what you related to and in which ways your experiences proved different. I look forward to your answers! Bonus points to anyone who uses the accompanying Venn diagram.
*Links to Off Balanced’s Amazon sales page affiliated with the Amazon LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.