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My body is damaged .. not my mind; All change: Say goodbye to spastic and hello to Capability Scotland.

The Scottish Council For Spastics is transforming the face of disability today, by changing its name to Capability Scotland. The aim is to banish the word spastic, and give disabled people a more positive image.

Charles Lapsley, who has Cerebral Palsy, is one of those helping to do that. The 45-year-old, who has also been appearing in adverts, tells why he's delighted at no longer being a spastic.

Spastic has become a very negative term.

I spent years on a housing estate and any new kids would always ask: "What's wrong with you?"

When I said that I couldn't walk as well as them, they'd say: "You're a spassy."

Yes, I have a disability and I'm in a wheelchair. But I'm still a human being - it doesn't make me a bad person.

My brain works as quickly as everyone else's, although I may sometimes not respond as quickly.

I also have feelings just like everyone else.

Derogatory comments hurt me -but I don't want sympathy, I just want to be treated like a normal person.

Instead of just being Charles, I'm a spastic. How can I live a normal life with a label like that?

I've lived at Wallace Court in Elderslie, Renfrewshire - a residential Scottish Council project - for 40 years.

And although I have people to help me, I live in a self-contained flat and do as much for myself as I can. I have responsibilities and commitments like anyone else.

I get up every morning, get dressed and have breakfast just the same as able-bodied people.

I work on reception at Wallace Court. Thanks to years of physiotherapy, I now have some movement in my hands, and although I'm confined to a wheelchair, I see that as my legs, not as a piece of machinery.

Yet when some people see the wheelchair, they think I'm stupid too.

But none of us are - and that's what is so frustrating about this illness.

We're trapped inside our bodies, when all we want to do are all the things able- bodied people take for granted. The whole point of the Scottish Council changing its name is to make people aware of what we CAN do, rather than what we CAN'T do.

I enjoy sports like Boccia, a form of bowling for people in wheelchairs, wheelchair dancing, and football.

I went on a media training course to take part in this campaign, because I want to help everyone tarred with the `spastic' brush.

More than 10,000 people in Scotland have Cerebral Palsy, although half of those helped by Capability Scotland have other disabilities.

So I speak for everyone with a disability, not just those with CP.

People stop taking us seriously the minute the word `spastic' is used.

We have good days and bad days too - and on a bad day someone being ignorant brings us down.

Next time you're about to call someone a spastic, think of Capability Scotland, and the key word `capable'.

Then remember that you're talking about a fellow human being.
COPYRIGHT 1996 Scottish Daily Record & Sunday
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Copyright 1996 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Apr 25, 1996
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