Dalila Castillo Discusses “trying to feel normal” with CP


I want to not only share a wonderful article in this month’s Teen Vogue, written by Dalila Castillo, the President of our Young Professional’s Committee, but also share my thoughts about it. In the piece, Dalila talks about her feelings of “trying to feel normal” when growing up with cerebral palsy.

As head of our Foundation, I’m fortunate to have opportunities to speak with many individuals and I’m constantly made aware of the complex challenges faced by people with cerebral palsy and disabilities.

It would be hard to overstate the depth of what individuals must feel when trying to navigate their diverse challenges. Does one, as Dalila discusses, wear orthotics and take time for the therapies needed to improve physical performance — or does one instead do all they can to try to conform with the norm?

Does a parent, faced with getting their child a good education, constantly fight a system if it is providing inadequate resources, or do they try to work with a teacher to maximize the positive impact of whatever services are provided?

Does an individual stay optimistic about love and friendship, despite disappointments and difficulties, which are — although faced by everyone — so often magnified when faced by someone with a disability? Or does a person retreat a bit, and find a different emotional space in which they will be more comfortable?

Every life, with or without disabilities, is marked by the milestones when one decides to pull back against long odds or fight them, when one chooses to say “yes” or “no.” Every individual faces daily decisions which will dramatically and inexorably change his or her life. We are often not even aware of those choices, but they do indeed define our paths forward.

However, even if these moments are faced by everyone, I am often told that for a person with disabilities, the moments are tougher, the challenges more pronounced, and the stakes greater. And I am also told that because of this, one’s achievements can also take on additional richness: that one also learns to cultivate that most wonderful of emotions: appreciation.

And so, having Dalila open up and share these thoughts not just for teens with disabilities, but for their friends, acquaintances, and the world… wow: what a lovely moment.

I hope you appreciate Dalila’s take on “normalcy” as much as we do. We love her perspectives. And we’d also like to add our word for how she’s turned out: extraordinary!