Reviewed & Edited by: Becky DiLettuso, MSW, Executive Director
Can a child move past the diagnosis of cerebral palsy to enjoy a bright future?
Sara Pyszka is now 28, a graduate of Wright State University with a degree in Rehabilitation Services, an author and a public speaker. Sara is a also a graduate of teli previously known as St Peter’s Child Development Center where she received early intervention therapy beginning at six weeks after being diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy. Sara’s brain was deprived of oxygen for three short minutes at birth, which changed her life forever as she is unable to walk, talk or use her hands.
Her journey has been by no means easy with challenges of Cerebral Palsy limiting her ability to move and speak. She has taken these hurdles head on with a unique perspective on her disability! “Let’s get this disability stuff out of the way. I have Cerebral Palsy.” she states on her website, www.sarapyszka.com. Sara offered to share some of her experience and advice on moving beyond the diagnosis.
How did you begin start your journey with teli, then St Peter’s Child Development Center?
“I was only six weeks of age and from what my parents told me I began to see therapists to help me work with my arms and legs to get them moving. I saw physical therapists and occupational therapists as well as speech therapists. While I don’t really remember a lot, by 5 years of age I was driving my wheelchair to get around.”
“I also required additional help through communication devices to express myself and when I was thirteen found one at a camp that I liked to use called a DynaVox. I am able to talk using it with a switch by my head. The device scans possible words and letters on a screen and I select what I want to say by moving the switch with my head.”
What can you tell other families and children with Cerebral Palsy about what you are involved in doing today?
“I am not even conscious of my disability; it is just another part of me. I was able to go to college, Wright State University in Dayton Ohio where I earned a degree in Rehabilitation Services. After I graduated college, I started giving presentations to teachers and students about how they don’t have to be afraid of people with disabilities. I have a video on my website of a presentation I gave in 2012 discussing how I use my DynaVox and more about my life.”
“I’m also writing a series. The main character of this series is like myself, and I really want to show her changing in ways many people don’t see people with disabilities change. The first book, DANCING DAISIES, is available on Amazon.”
What has been your biggest challenge to overcome so you can become so active?
“I have been very fortunate to find the right personal care assistants to help me be so independent. If I don’t have the right assistants who understand what I want to do, I can’t live my life how I want to.”
What are your goals do you have going forward?
“I want to finish writing my series and eventually move out on my own again.”
What words of wisdom would you give families and their children in terms of dealing with Cerebral Palsy?
“You have to think of Cerebral Palsy as only one part of the puzzle of your life. You have to be creative to complete the puzzle.”
teli is SO proud of Sara and her accomplishments! Last year, teli provided nearly $400,000 in charitable care. Join us in helping children with special needs to reach their full potential – make your gift today at www.telipa.org/donate/