Disability Story – Cerebral Palsy

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By: Shawna Smith 

My son, Preston, was born prematurely at 31 weeks. He was in distress and was delivered via emergency c-section. His traumatic birth caused severe brain bleed which led to many other complications. Doctors tried to prepare me for what his quality of life would be. They told me that he might never be able to walk, talk, or, indeed, eat without a feeding tube. However, he has almost reached 5 years of age, and has exceeded their expectations. Preston sure showed them wrong!

Man and woman holding hands pushing boy in wheelchair
2019 Disability Pride Parade and Celebration

              At an early age, Preston started going to the Child Development Centre in Calgary (CDC) to see a physiotherapist, speech therapist, and occupational therapist as well as a dietitian. At the CDC he participated in swim therapy and music therapy, which both helped him immensely.

             Shortly after his first birthday he was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy. This is generally an early age for diagnosis. However, his pediatrician was able to confidently diagnose him with spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy. His Cerebral Palsy greatly affects his legs more than anything else. Preston was unable to sit independently until he was about 1.5 years old, around the same time he received his first pair of Ankle Foot Orthosis (AFO‘s). He started “army crawling” shortly after his 2nd birthday, and not long after that received his pediatric walker. Once he discovered he could get around on his own, there was no stopping him! Preston started standing without support when he was around 3.5 years old. At first, he could only do so for 5-10 seconds at a time, but he quickly extended that time.

     Preston had a cognitive delay which affected his speech and communication. Shortly before he turned 4, he was discharged from the Child Development Centre. He started an Early Development Centre preschool program in which he continued seeing the same kinds of therapists. As soon as he started this program, we saw his speech and vocabulary explode. Now he is quite the chatterbox. He won’t stop talking. Not long after Preston turned 4 that he took his first independent steps. He was so excited and proud. He just wanted to keep trying to take more and more steps. Although unable to walk fully by himself, he keeps trying every day. With the help of his pediatric forearm crutches, he is getting closer and closer to his goal of independence.

Mr. Preston

             Preston is such an inspiration, not only to myself, but to everyone he encounters. I have never met anyone more optimistic, determined, persistent and genuinely happy. No matter how many times he literally falls down, he always gets right back up with a smile on his face and tries again. Preston has 2 older sisters who have helped him greatly with his progress. He’s always trying to keep up to them, and do what they do. His disabilities do not define him. He lives with them, and works with them. He refuses to let them work against him, and hold him

Considering our family’s huge involvement in the disability and special needs community, I am participating in the Spin 4 Kids fundraiser for the Goodlife Kids Foundation.

This fundraiser takes place Canada wide. The Goodlife Kids Foundation gives grants to programs that help children with intellectual disabilities and special needs to purchase adaptive equipment and programs to stay active.

The main event for Spin 4 Kids takes place on November 16th at the Deerfoot City location of Goodlife Fitness. I am fundraising on my son’s behalf up until that point.

If you would like to contribute, any amount is greatly appreciated and makes a difference. Donations of $20 and up receive a tax receipt.

To make a donation to “Presty’s Peeps” please click here:



Learn more by checking out cpalberta.com Cerebral Palsy Association in Alberta


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