Until a few years ago, I lived with my mother all of my life. I now proudly tell people that I live on my own, even though I rely on a caregiver to assist me with tasks I cannot do independently because of cerebral palsy. As I work at home and spend much of my time taking care of myself, many products make these chores easier, quicker, and less frustrating.
Although I always walked up and down my townhome’s stairs, friends worried about my risk of falling when I am alone. A very generous gift of a stair chair has given me safety, greater freedom in my own home, and more energy for other activities. Stair chairs can allow individuals to remain in two-story homes without the risks of climbing stairs.
My limited coordination prevents me from pouring drinks. When I’m alone, I take drinks from the refrigerator that my caregiver has already poured. Stainless steel travel mugs with lids and handles work best for me. Straws usually fit into these mugs, and I can enjoy whatever I’m drinking without cleaning up spills.
Speaking of straws, reusable ones such as these make sipping from a regular cup or glass more fun. Most have wider openings to allow more liquid to flow through them. Although some do not fit into the lids of travel mugs, reusable straws come in various widths and lengths. They save money, and are dishwasher-safe, too.
When I’m eating at home, I typically use plates that are lightweight and non-breakable since I clean up after myself. Since I also have difficulties scooping food out of deep dishes and bowls, I find these small scoop plates perfect for yogurt and fruit. The curved side assists me in scooping up every bit of what I’m eating. Other melamine plates meet my needs for everyday use, too.
Limited coordination often causes objects to slip and slide. Dycem, an anti-slip, rubber-like material, is great to put under placemats, books, computer keyboards, or anything that needs to be stabilized. I prefer to buy Dycem on a roll because it can be cut to fit the size of the object, which makes it unnoticeable. Dycem washes with soap and water, and can be easily brought to school, an office, or anywhere.
I have never had the ability to use traditional scissors. Loop scissors enable me to open packages and cut the few things I cut on my own. The large loop handle lets me grip the scissors without much effort.
With severe difficulties in locking and unlocking a door with a key, I couldn’t leave home independently without a keyless entry system. Different brands and models have various features. Mine includes a programmable keypad that allows me to enter my code to unlock the door from the outside. Inside, I can turn the toggle switch to lock or unlock the door. It also automatically locks within a minute. I always take the key that came with the system, though, in case the batteries die.
Stephanie Torreno graduated from Houston Baptist University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology and technical writing. Her work has included numerous online articles exploring education, special education, and mental health topics. She also wrote an online newsletter for supported employment professionals focused on obtaining work for individuals with disabilities. Stephanie published her memoir, “Keeping My Balance: A Memoir of Disability and Determination,” last year. Her website is stephanietorreno.com.