Bridging the ‘gap of understanding’ during Disabilities Awareness Month

Derrick Coleman, Staff Writer

With October being National Disability Awareness Month, students at Cerritos College shared their stories about life with a disability.

Pearl Netrayana, a child development major at Cerritos College, has cerebral palsy, or as Netrayana states, “a type of brain injury that can happen before birth and/or after birth, it basically like some type of brain damage that can affect people at different levels.”

Netrayana explained, “Cerebral Palsy is a diagnosis that is very broad, so they [people] can have the same diagnosis, but it can also affect them different levels of mobility. So, like with me, I’m in a wheelchair, some people may utilize crutches.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control, “Cerebral palsy (CP) is a group of disorders that affect a person’s ability to move and maintain balance and posture.”

Netrayana chose child development as a major because she “has always wanted to work with individuals with special needs.”

She started off taking one class and enjoyed it.

Netrayana said, “this major is very hands on. I want to help build the foundation of children, which I think is in important factor.

Netrayana said National Disabilities Awareness Month is important “because it gives an opportunity to bridge the gap of understanding between individuals with disabilities and individuals without a disability.”

Luis Lemus, a communication major with multiple scleroris, says, he wants to focus on public relations.

Lemus said, “what honestly inspired [me] to come to [Cerritos] are my nieces, they are what bring me joy.”

He spoke about his disability saying, “back in May of 2014 I knew that there was something going on just based on my walking and balance at the time. The doctor’s advised me to go to the emergency room one night and by the end of the next day and after a spinal tap for fluids they [doctors] diagnosed me with multiple sclerosis.”

Lemus motivation, to continue his education is the belief that is never to late to pursue an education.

A spinal tap is a procedure where spinal fluid is removed from the spinal canal for the purpose of diagnostic testing.

Media studies major Peter Choi said, “my disability is spina bifida, it’s basically a spinal cord injury where the spine isn’t infused all the way, that’s why I am in the wheelchair.”

Choi said, “I think [National] Disability Awareness Month is important because, personally, I see a lot of people’s situations where they really don’t cater to people with disabilities, especially physical disabilities.”

Netrayana said, “I don’t let my disability define who I am. I see my disability as more of my lifestyle and a way that I have to live and it’s just a challenge I have to go through.”