By: Ashley Mohesky
Hello! My name is Ashley Mohesky. I’m 22 years old and I have mixed cerebral palsy. Mixed CP is a combination of spastic cerebral palsy and athetoid cerebral palsy, which causes involuntary movements in the body. When I was born, I weighed 2 lbs 3 oz and my brain lost about 3 minutes of oxygen. Because of that, I am in a wheelchair and I use an iPad to communicate.
The doctors told my family that I was either going to be a vegetable my whole life or dead, but at the age of 3, I started a program in school called Preschool Program for Children With Disabilities. PPCD is a special education class for children with moderate to severe disabilities that are at the age for pre-kindergarten. Within a month of being in the program, my teacher realized that I didn’t need to be in her class because I was at a higher level than the other students. There was just one issue though, I couldn’t communicate other than pointing to what I wanted or needed. The school district decided to let me test a device called a Dynavox. After playing with it for a few minutes, I started typing out words and creating sentences without assistance. Once I got a Dynavox of my own, I was taken out of PPCD and transferred to a regular education first grade class. From then on, I excelled in every grade level.
After graduating from high school, I began my higher education and received straight A’s my first semester of college. I graduated in May with my associates degree in General Studies. I will transfer this fall to our local university to work on a bachelors in Social Work and a masters in Counseling to become a rehabilitation counselor to help improve the lives of people with disabilities of all kinds.
In the Fall of 2011, I started giving motivational speeches to give people hope when they are going through a rough time. My whole life I’ve been judged just by my wheelchair and communication device, and I want everyone to know that a person with any sort of disability is just like every other person that does not have a disorder. They just have more challenges and have to do tasks differently. By delivering my speeches and telling everyone about my story, I hope to diminish the stereotype of people who can’t walk, talk, or have other difficulties are intellectually challenged.
Living with Cerebral Palsy is not easy, but I wouldn’t change it for the world because every day I learn a valuable lesson, such as life is too short to not go for your dreams despite the setbacks, and to appreciate what you have because it could always be worse. To the outside world, CP sounds like a horrible disease because it prevents people from living their lives, but it’s not. In my case, CP only affects my ability to walk, talk, and eat/drink by mouth and I’m so incredibly grateful for it.
If you or your family member has CP, do not give up on yourself or them, and don’t be susceptible to pity. No matter what the challenges you face are, someone out there always has it worse than you do. Even though there are hard days, having faith and determination in every part of your life, you or your family member can get through anything in life that comes your way. “I can do anything through Christ who strengthens me” Philippians 4:13.