Cerebral Palsy Awareness Month 2022 – Gavin’s Story
March 15 2022
In his blog, Gavin Clifton, a disability blogger and author from South Wales, shares his story with us in his own words about what it is like to live with cerebral palsy and what inspired him to write his best selling children’s books.
Hello, my name is Gavin. I am thirty-nine years old and live in a little village called Pentwynmawr near Newbridge in South Wales. I’m a disabled author, songwriter, and disability blogger.
I have Quadriplegia cerebral palsy, and my right side is affected the worst, but in my case, all four limbs are affected. But every case of cerebral palsy is different, and everyone who has it is affected differently. I also have a severe speech impediment due to my brain injury, and I was also born with a cleft palate and hair lip. Both are now corrected due to my operations which I had up until I was around twenty years old.
In my case, living with cerebral palsy, I experience muscle stiffness mainly in my right arm, and my coordination and balance are also affected. So this restricts me from carrying out certain chores, or I maybe need to take more time doing them. Examples of these chores are cooking, being around, lifting, and carrying hot pots and pans of boiling water can be dangerous just in case I slip or fall whilst carrying these objects, meaning there is a risk of spilling hot water and burning myself. The same risk applies to ironing. Using a hot iron where steam and hot water come out of it, meaning one slip or exaggerated movements, could mean myself getting burnt. Other things I find difficult are doing shoelaces up and shirt and jean buttons.
My mother does a lot of my cooking which eliminates the risks of getting burnt whilst cooking with boiling water. So when my mother isn’t around, I use the microwave for cooking or heating my food. OK, there is still an element of risk when cooking when using a microwave. Still, I make sure I am extra careful when carrying heated plates, dishes, and cutlery, and the microwave is situated not too far from our dining table. Hence, it’s a case of just carrying anything a very short distance. With shoes, I always buy slip-on ones. With any buttons, I try not to wear shirts that often. Instead, I wear slip-on jeans and trousers where there are plenty of fashion businesses out there who make easily accessible clothing for disabled people and are very fashionable.
I have always been interested in writing short stories from a young age. It all started when I was in Primary School. I loved English lessons. Then due to being a typical teenager, I stopped writing for a few years. But, from the age of around twenty-one, I started writing again. First, I threw myself into writing song lyrics because I also love music. But my parents have always encouraged and wanted me to write a children’s book, so a few years ago, I finally decided to write one.
I’ve forever wanted to use my experiences of living with cerebral palsy to help and inspire others. Still, a few things kept me from doing so, and the main barrier was not seeing and accepting myself as a disabled person.
Writing my first book, ‘Max And The Magic Wish’ about disability and acceptance, has helped me to accept myself, and now I realise that I have been accepted for who I am as a person all along. I want to use my new sense of acceptance to show children who are disabled that it is OK to be different and accept others that are different, and let nobody tell you any different. So, always be yourself.
It is important that I help raise awareness and spread as much positivity about cerebral palsy as possible, and I am really enjoying taking part in Cerebral Palsy Cymru's '70k Your Way' challenge this March by challenging myself to complete 100 steps a day. Having a disability and being different doesn’t mean you can’t follow and achieve your dreams just like everybody else. It may take you a little longer to navigate around and do the things you love, but it’s with lots of determination and figuring out new and innovative ways to become the best person you can be that’s all that matters.
Your disability doesn’t define you as a person. Having cerebral palsy does not mean that you can’t become a successful person. So, if you have aspirations and dreams for when you get older, never stop chasing them, because when you find a way to break down barriers that get put in the way, and when you then start living your dreams, this is when you start making a difference and showing the world that it’s not always about concentrating on what you CAN’T DO, it’s showing what you CAN DO, and this is what drives society on towards becoming an inclusive one. So, #alwaysbeyou and #nevergiveup.
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Cerebral Palsy Cymru is a registered charity in England and Wales 1010183. A company limited by guarantee. Registered company in England and Wales 02691690. Registered address: Cerebral Palsy Cymru, 1 The Courtyard, 73 Ty Glas Avenue, Llanishen, Cardiff, CF14 5DX.