Having a disability of any kind can be a full-time job in itself, particularly if there are many aspects to it. A physical disability is rarely “pure,” in the sense that it only affects one part of the body, one system. The human body is a vast interconnected highway of systems, pathways, organs, fluids, cells, tissues etc. that somehow, invented in “God’s great workshop,” all work together to make us function as a human being. However, when you have a permanent or acquired disability, there are many manifestations of things that don’t work quite right – like a puzzle piece that doesn’t quite fit. These big and little annoyances are as individual as one’s finger prints. Two people, who, on paper, have the same labelled disability, can operate quite differently depending upon the initial site and extent of injury or brain damage.
One of those little annoyances for me, as a person with spastic cerebral palsy, is a mild “fine motor coordination problem.”
Medical Definition – “The inability to perform delicate manipulations with the hand requiring steadiness, muscle control, and simultaneous discrete finger movements.” To increase the challenge, I am also a left-handed person in a right-handed world. Truth be told, we all acclimate to this one, because we have to…
This problem of lack of fine motor coordination can rear its ugly head a thousand times a day for any of us. We compensate or just live with it. Examples of little things that are often difficult for me include:
- Buttoning/unbuttoning, zipping clothing- the smaller the hole or device, the worse it is for me;
- Using a needle – forget sewing anymore;
- Opening containers –especially vacuumed packed containers – cereal, chips, salad bags. You try and try, and try to get a grip…. Then it’s either your arms are exhausted or there is an explosion, if you know what I mean!
- Anything requiring the “pincher grasp” (i.e., a skill developed by 10-12 month olds who demonstrate a grasping pattern requiring an object held in place between the pad of your thumb and your index finger) How many beverages these days have sealed openings over the mouth of the bottle or lid?;
- Performing delicate finger movement in a confined space (such as a personal message box on Facebook);
- Typing with proficiency and/or efficiency;
- Tying shoes, boxes- packages;
Some of these sample fine motor problems can be universal to all people. However, with persons who have physical disabilities they can be pronounced and very time-consuming. In order to compensate, there are some things I have learned to do over time such as:
Give myself extra time to perform such tasks (except when you’re rushing out the door to get to work before the rooster crows.) It always seems to happen when I’m rushing out the door, my coat won’t zip; I can’t put on my watch or find the right key for the door lock!
Pre -button or pre-zip blouses-sweaters after washing, such that you can put them on over the head and most of the frustration is eliminated;
Buy pants with a limited number of fasteners…or no fastener as at all (Ugh! elastic waist “old lady pants.”) So far, I only wear sweats to bed. Why oh why do we need buttons on the inside and outside of the waistband, and a metal clasp and a zipper and belt loops for a belt??? This is torture for me! What about simple?
Buy shoes with velcro fasteners (except when they begin to wear and look like the “curled up feet of the Wicked Witch of the West.” It’s then that they are not cool to wear anymore.
A Few Words about Social Media-
It is well-known that I am not a big fan of social media. A BIG part of the reason is that it challenges my fine motor skills all the time! And, with the exception of a Google search, or sometimes error correct a Tweet (or make an error you didn’t intend), social media has made no attempt whatsoever to help persons with disabilities navigate better! I am not touch typist,could never be one. But, I have gotten better with years of practice as a writer.
When an update is made on your phone or computer, or just as a means of endless security checks, we are constantly forced to sign into everything, create a new password or new account etc. This is very frustrating for me, and I have no patience for such things. If you send me a PM on Facebook, it is a real challenge for me to communicate in that little box. One day, I will just stop answering over there. If I make one typing error when trying to sign in or forget the correct password, it is severe punishment to me, as I cannot recover half as quickly as you can.
I am such a busy person with many, many endeavors, which I prefer to do. I try to make a difference in others’ lives, versus sitting around watching the tube or whatever.
That said, I do need help to accomplish what I need to do, despite the annoyance of fine motor coordination problems. Bless my PR Manager for helping me with this at times, when I just can’t take it anymore! At other times, I sink rather than swim. It is unconscionable that these tech companies leave persons with disabilities out in the cold. Just another reason to dislike technology! Moral of my story, please be patient with me as I error my way through life! LOL I’m doing the best I can, I swear!
you are a superb writer, young lady. many thanks for sharing your story.