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Stephensons' clinical negligence team take time out to engage in learning and reflection to acknowledge World Cerebral Palsy Day

Stephensons clinical negligence team take time out to engage in learning and reflection to acknowledge World Cerebral Palsy Day

Every year on 6th October, the world takes a moment to acknowledge and celebrate World Cerebral Palsy Day. With over 17 million people across the world living with cerebral palsy, it is important to raise awareness about this complex disability.

What is cerebral palsy?

Cerebral palsy is caused because of damage to the brain, either though injury or due to developmental issues whilst a child’s brain is developing. The condition affects body movement and muscle co-ordination which can affect both fine and gross motor skills. Every case of cerebral palsy is unique to that person. 

At Stephensons, we have a longstanding history of supporting children, and their families, who have developed cerebral palsy due to injuries caused to the brain during the antenatal period, birth and shortly after birth, because of negligent medical care.

In past years, we have marked this special day by donating to brain injury charities and supporting local families and schools. This year, we decided it was time for change and therefore we were delighted that Alex Winstanley and his expert team from Happy Smiles Training joined our clinical negligence team for the morning. The Happy Smiles team enlightened and educated us on the importance of the use of inclusive language when communicating with people with a whole range of disabilities. 

It was very interesting to be taught the origin of words which were once considered to be socially acceptable and which descriptions these words have since been replaced with. The training was expertly led by Alex Winstanley, who is self-described as an “award-winning social entrepreneur” and he was very expertly assisted by the excellent Inclusion Champions namely, Anna, Chloe, Kurt and Tom. In fact, it was Tom’s debut session, and he stole the show. Tom is nonverbal and therefore it was incredibly refreshing to undergo training on communicating with someone who is unable to express themselves with words.

What set this training apart from many conferences is that the training was led by disabled people – who better to teach us about the importance of inclusive language and communication.

Following the thought provoking, yet very entertaining, session with the Happy Smiles team, we were asked to reflect on what we had learned that day and here are a few quotes from the Stephensons team.

“I am now more conscious of how I am speaking with disabled people and the terminology I use. I will ensure that I take necessary action to facilitate the person being included in conversations about their claim.”

“I am now more knowledgeable about the different forms of language used to communicate”

“I am going to be more observant and understanding of the way people with disabilities communicate and I will be more considerate of the terms I use.”

“I will take time to learn individual communication techniques”

“I will be more conscious with the language that I use and, in particular, try to avoid using the word normal, given there is no such thing!”

“I am going to educate my friends regarding the social mobility model and challenge them when using derogatory terms”

“I will make sure I actively think about inclusion whenever I plan new projects and I will be more confident when speaking to or about people with disabilities”

Whilst World Cerebral Palsy Day may only come around once a year, the lessons which the team at Stephensons learned via the training provided by Happy Smiles will last for a lifetime.