Without getting too technical, the simplest way to explain S.Q.C.P.
Cerebral Palsy – injury to the brain which controls movement of the body
Quadriplegia (or Quadriplegic) – all four limbs are affected
Spastic – spasticity in the body is high, affects the muscles, pulling the body in awkward directions
My Little-Big Sister
My little sister Gabriella, was born with Spastic Quadriplegia Cerebral Palsy, three and a half years before I arrived in this world. Although Gaby is technically my older sister, she will forever be “my baby sister”
Most people wonder why they were placed on earth, what are they meant to be doing, what is their purpose? My purpose is… Gaby! (well, I think so at least!)
My parents have told me how Gaby used to cry every night before I was born and as soon as I arrived, she stopped. She had to be the big sister now. I have seen many pictures of Gaby lying next to me with her arm over me or rocking my Snug & Safe (baby chair) on the floor. She was looking after me!
As we grew older I never really saw a difference between Gaby and I. We were sisters who would play together just as any siblings would. Okay, our playing might have been very different to the norm but it was fun and hey, I never knew any different. Gaby and I did everything together, where she went I went, what she wore I wore. We were pretty much like twins. I was never apart from my sister.
It only started getting harder when I started school. People with disabilities were never spoken about unless you knew of someone personally. It was a very hush hush subject and this is where the problem came in. Here I was, a bright cheerful girl who was so proud of my big sister that I was so confident to tell everyone about her… and that’s when those who were never exposed to people with special needs came in and changed my world. They would say mean, nasty and really hurtful things about my sister. That is when I became defensive about Gaby. No one, and I mean no one would ever be allowed to speak about my sister like that ever again. From then on out I became Gaby’s defender and protector. If someone even looked at my sister in a negative way, I would have it out with them. I did not care – Gaby deserved to be treated with the same respect as everyone else.
As I grew older I started becoming more confident and knowledgeable about Cerebral Palsy . This allowed me to approach anyone and tell them Gaby’s story and how she is no different to you or I. Gaby just needed more assistance, patience and understanding. This is why my family started Gabriella Centre – so that Gaby could have the chance to succeed in life, no matter how great or small. No one knows which way their life will lead, but one thing is for sure, I will always put my “little big sister”, first.
[Written by: Sabrina Del Fabbro]
[For more information on the Gabriella Centre, take a look at their website at www.gabriellacentre.org.za]