October is a very important month, can anyone guess why?
If you said Halloween, you would only be half right. October also happens to be Spina Bifida Awareness Month. Before I give it away and tell you all about it, let’s take a little quiz to see how much you might already know about it.
Not so bad right???
I’m not gonna give you the answers just yet, but I will tell you that two out of five of these statements are true! Now I bet some of you are worried that your crazy co-worker or next door neighbor has Spina Bifida and now you’re gonna catch it. AHHHH!!!! Well, rest easy. Spina Bifida is not something you catch like a cold or a football, you’re born with it.
In order to best understand what Spina Bifida is, let me try and explain it by using objects and characters from a show that you may be familiar with, Once Upon A Time.
- Belle’s chipped cup
Like the chip in Belles cup most people born with Spina Bifida have defect in their spine that does not close properly while in the womb. There are a few different levels of Spina Bifida, but all involve an imperfection in the spine/back.
- The original 8 dwarves
Every day there are about 8 babies born with Spina Bifida, just like the original 8 dwarves (RIP Stealthy). It is the most common permanently disabling birth defect in the United States
- Pinocchio aka August Booth
Depending on where the opening is in the spine, there are several varying levels of disability and nerve damage. As August was turning back into wood, he had several characteristics as someone with Spina Bifida:
- Difficulty walking: paralysis (depending on where “chip” is on back; can cause one to walk like a penguin)
- Loss of feeling due to nerve damage
- Hook’s Hook
Many people with Spina Bifida require assistive and adaptive equipment in order to function in a more independent manner. Killian needs his hook, and people with Spina Bifida need things such as leg braces, wheelchairs, and crutches to help them to get around easier.
- Henry’s Storybook
Nobody knows the origin of the book just as no one knows exactly what causes Spina Bifida. Although research has shown that Folic Acid plays an important role in the prevention of Spina Bifida.
Given all this new information you have learned about Spina Bifida, what is it exactly that I want you to do with it? Great question! If it isn’t obvious by now, I have Spina Bifida but I am also a person. I have my own identities other than the one given to me by my disability. I am Jenny and I am also an individual with a disability. I am both!
I want each and every one of you who is reading this to take action and continue to educate yourselves on the many other aspects of Spina Bifida. There is a struggle within each individual, a good versus evil if you will, to either give into the disability and let it overpower them, or to push forward and make the most out of the cards that they have been dealt.
It is true, people with Spina Bifida can do extraordinary things! If Once Upon A Time has taught us anything, it’s to have hope. Hope begins with awareness and understanding. Please help to give hope to those with Spina Bifida who are afraid to be themselves.
Like Emma who is uncomfortable with the magic that is inside her, many people with Spina Bifida are struggling to be accepted as valuable members of society and as human being who are much more than just their disability.
So please continue to educate yourself and spread the word about Spina Bifida not only during this month, but throughout the rest of your life.
Creating a difference in the world takes a year-round effort, and it is ducklings like you who can make a difference in people’s lives. I hope you go out there and do amazing and magical things!!
For more information about spina bifida, click here!
Jenny is 25 years old, and she is an individual with Spina Bifida. She is a family therapist at a practice in Illinois called the Center for Identity Potential. When she is not working she enjoys the arts, such as singing, theater, drawing, and making fan videos.