My name is Kitty, I am 66 and I have had Cerebral Palsy from birth. When I was young I never really minded being disabled, in a silly way I thought that when I grew up it would all go away, crazy eh!

 

Unlike all other children, I didn’t start school at five as there wasn’t a school for disabled children. I was lucky enough to get a tutor at home one night per week. I also had a Speech Therapist one afternoon per week, although I never really thought that there was anything wrong with my speech as my family and all the people around me knew what I was saying, to me at that time I spoke like everyone else.

At age 7, I got into Kelbourne School and I attended there until the day before my 17th birthday. When I first went to school, I was given so many months to prove that they could educate me. School was great as it provided me with an education as well as valuable therapy input. When I was at school, I was very independent and could do a lot for myself like walking, dressing and attending to personal care. If I’m being honest, that was something that I never thought would change, but that was not the case.

I started to notice changes in terms of the effect of my Cerebral Palsy at around age 24, experiencing pain in my knees and then in my hips. I think it was then that I realised that things were about to change in my life. At this stage, I did sometimes require a wheelchair, but this was only outside. I was able to walk at home and this was the way that I wanted it to stay. I never believed that pain could change my life, but it did. Eventually when the pain became too much, I ended up using a wheelchair all of the time, this took away some of my independence which really annoyed me.

I was referred to Capability Scotland by my OT in my mid 30’s (then called Scottish Council for Spastics). The previous centre which I attended was not supporting me to lead life to the full and I’d had enough. I have attended a day service at Capability Scotland weekly for around 30years. Capability Scotland has been amazing to me.

In 2013 I was asked to chair a Customer Advisory Group (CAG). I was asked to be the chair of the group because I knew how the main board operated. All members of this group have varying disabilities. CAG is a sub-committee of the main board and we are there to advise them on issues regarding customers. The board also ask us for advice. The most important part of this for me has been helping the main board to see customers as people and being able to bring up issues that are important to disabled people. I think it is really important for disabled people to have a voice and being a member of CAG allows us to support Capability Scotland in achieving this.

Recently it was highlighted that many customers were having issues with taxis. To try and resolve this and fight for disabled people’s rights, we invited a local taxi firm to our offices to speak about the problems. We hope improvements will be seen as a result of this meeting.

Capability Scotland has given me a voice and taught me to speak up for not only myself but for all other customers. I would like to thank them for giving me the confidence to do this.

Action on Hearing Loss logo Capability Scotland logo Enable Scotland logo RNIB Scotland logo SAMH logo Sense Scotland logo