Ellen S: A lot of people laughed when they first watched the video by Zach Anner, the twentysomething with cerebral palsy auditioning for Oprah's "Your Own Show." I laughed, too. I also cried. Zach was funny. He was self-deprecating. He was charming. He seemed like a great guy -- not a guy to be pitied. As the mom of a little boy with CP, I ache for the world to see my child that way.
Max is 7. He is cute and funny and has a big personality, just like Zach. But he can't talk and has trouble using his hands, which makes people pity him. I see it in their eyes when they gaze at him. I hear it in their voices when they say, "He is precious." Just today, we were at the pool, and as Max splashed around with the other kids, a mom remarked, "He is so social for a kid with cerebral palsy." ARGH!! As if it is astounding to see a kid with disabilities acting like ... a kid.
Max isn't yet aware of any of this. I am -- painfully so. It hurts me that, too often, the world is only able to notice the special needs, not my child.
And so, when I see an adult with CP like Zach Anner, my soul fills with hope. Hope that Max will grow up to be as self-assured as this guy is. Hope that Max will be bigger than his disability, as Zach seems to be. Hope that one day, people will look past the CP and enjoy Max for who he is. And of course, if Max grows up to be the SECOND person with cerebral palsy to win his own talk show (after Zach, of course), that would be pretty awesome.