Madeleine and her twin brother Reid were born prematurely at 25 weeks gestation. Their parents, Alana and Matt were told that Madeleine may end up with cerebral palsy due to multiple brain hemorrhages she experienced at birth. After waiting to see how Madeleine would develop, Alana and Matt learned that their daughter had a mild form of CP that affects mobility in her right leg and requires her to wear a brace.
Recently, Alana signed up a very excited Madeleine for her first ballet class. Alana chose a class that is specifically designed for children with disabilities. “I struggled at first with the feeling that I’d be holding her back by keeping her from dancing in “normal” classes alongside typically-abled kids,” says Alana. But Alana and Matt have chosen not to hide their daughter’s disability from her.
Alana admits that she often feels “unsure of how to raise Madeleine to not be held back by her disability, to not think it’s sad or less than or something she should feel self-conscious about.” Like with the dance class, Alana says she sometimes has doubts about whether this was the right move for her daughter. She certainly doesn’t want Madeleine to feel as if she isn’t “good enough or able enough or whatever enough to be with the other kids.”
“Sometimes, I have no freaking clue what I’m supposed to be doing at all."
Despite her doubts, Alana pushes forward with her position that talking about her daughter’s disability is in no way a bad thing. “I feel pretty certain that not talking about it, that not saying the words, not being open about the fact that, hey, you know, there actually is something different about Madeleine, is not the way to empower her, or anyone else,” she shares.
Alana aims to raise Madeleine to embrace her differences, and to never be ashamed of who she is.
“I can at least try to teach her that she can be OK with how she happens to be, that she can talk about her disability, that she can own it; that there is absolutely no reason why she should do anything less.”
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