Catie is great at teaching, riding her adaptive trike, being funny, keeping the peace between her siblings, and just being nice. That is how her younger sister proudly describes her. Catie participates in gymnastics and challenger soccer. Catie loves to read and write. She wants to be a teacher when she grows up.
Catie also has ataxic cerebral palsy. It makes it feel like she is wearing socks on her hands while trying to button buttons, tie shoe laces, write with a pencil, and other fine motor skills. Ataxic cerebral palsy is an interruption of muscle control resulting in balance and coordination difficulty. Sometimes she stumbles, so to prevent that she uses braces on her lower legs and a walker. Catie attends therapy to make the muscles stronger and improve her motor skills.
Think of the brain as a series of pipes. The brain damage or cerebral palsy is like a clog in the pipes. The brain then will create new pipes or pathways in the brain to accomplish what it needs. It’s why Catie was able to learn to walk. Her brain created a different path around the damage for her to learn to walk.
Catie was born with cerebral palsy. It makes her sad when she focuses on the ways she is different from other kids. The beginning of each school year brings some anxiety for Catie. How will the kids react to seeing her with her walker and braces? Catie and her mom talk to the class about ataxic cerebral palsy, what it means in her life, and invite her class to ask questions. Kids at Catie’s school are eager to help her when they can. That is not a big surprise as she has always made friends easily.
Catie’s mom is proud of how she perseveres, which means she keeps trying when things are difficult. She believes Catie’s mind is like a treasure chest. She has a wealth of knowledge and understanding locked away in the box. Doctors, therapy, medicine and hard work are the keys to unlock the box. Some days it feels as though they found the right key to open the box and other days it feels as though they have no keys and the box is locked tight.