Wednesday, August 19, 2009
The missing California boy with cerebral palsy
Some of you may have heard about Hassani Campbell, the missing five-year-old boy with cerebral palsy from Oakland, California. The story has been haunting me. His beautiful face has been haunting me. Jo has a really smart post today about media bias toward cerebral palsy. She notes that the press has told the public to look for a little boy with metal braces on his legs, but points out that SMO braces (the kind Hassani has) are not visible with shoes, and that kids with these braces often walk just like any other kid. So people would think they should be looking for a child with a noticeable limp and noticeable braces, when, in fact, Hassani looks like any other kid.
This bias is so prevalent. When I tell people that Max has cerebral palsy, many automatically assume he is in a wheelchair. I have to help them understand that cerebral palsy comes in many forms. Max's legs are the least affected part of his body; his arms, oral-motor skills and cognition are the most affected. Conversely, there is a boy in Max's school who is completely wheelchair bound but who is brilliant.
Tonight, I am thinking of Hassani, and praying for his safe return.
Photo from Oakland Police Department