I think most readers will have heard of and understand the Autism Spectrum, an understand that this ‘condition’ can vary its severity from very mild to absolutely severe. Well I would like to propose that it is time we look at Cerebral Palsy (CP) in the same way, as a spectrum.
While every impairment can be seen as a spectrum, which is another story, I would like to propose CP, brain damage at birth, is unique because the effects its generates is so far ranging it appears to cover every other impairment.
CP is quite unique as it generates physical and mental difficulties in many ways. I would like to suggest from personal experience and the stories of others that cp affects mental health in a way that only further research would undcover properly.
I believe the wide range of effects of CP is the reason why organisations like Scope, founded to support people wth CP, have found it easy to shrud its shoulders and proclaim itself an pan-impairment organisation, as CP is an pan-impairment condition. The problem with that is it ignores the cultural importance of cp as a form of identity.
I have learnt to distest impairment labels. While I understand the importance of labels at the point of dianogsis, I have seen how impairments labels have recently been used by left wing activists to demand entitlement beyond need or understanding.
Saying I have CP is meaningless, but to say I am on the CP Spectrum makes more sense. I still have CP, the condition that affects everything, or enough of things in my life, but I am now able to acknowledge there are people more severe and less severe than myself.
This individualisation of the severity of my level of CP has fundamental implications. It demonstrates my label of CP is meaningless as a gateway to services and support, where I need to individually be assessed to know what I need as Simon. The idea of a Spectrum therefore offers a more understandable concept of CP and impairment generally.
I believe this may be the first time CP has been defined as a Spectrum and I am unsure of the process to formalise my concept. What matters is I understand it and that it helps me understand I am an individual who is now able to position myself with my friends and colleagues with cp.
I believe seeing the whole notion of impairment in terms of spectrums could fundamentally change our understanding of impairments as degrees of severity. This could avoid people using their impairment labels to blindly demand entitlements. People will no longer have fixåd ideas about impairments but see a scale of possibilty.
I doubt many others will adopt the Cerebral Palsy spectrum but it is a very interesting way to view impairment, bringing its complexities to the mainstream.