Obviously, you haven’t been here long if you’ve never heard me talk about Rhea. Today we also get to meet Eric who is a single dad with 3 children, one who has Cerebral Palsy. (2 posts in one day! Go me!). Go forth and meet Eric Vellone of Ultimate Local Music, I promise you, you won’t be disappointed! (As with the other posts, questions will be bold, Eric’s answers in italics and if I have anything to add it’ll be bold italics)
1. Tell me a little bit about YOU. (As in the person… Since you’ve been a person long before diagnosis!)
Well; I am very much into the music scene especially local music. I love Harley Davidson motorcycles and have owned two of them; hopefully soon I will be able to buy another. I try to be as laid back as I can be. I don’t let too much bother me and “think” I have a good sense of humor, ask my sister; she has been the butt of a lot of my jokes and pranks. (Rhea told me of one such incident last night. Something involving poor Gabe potentially falling to his death and Rhea falling while you laughed at her…)
2. Tell me about your children (even “typically developing kids”)
My son is 13 and has cerebral palsy. He has the greatest smile and sense of humor himself; he obviously gets that from me. He is constantly trying to give me and everybody else a “wet willy”, this is where you stick your finger in your mouth, get is all slobbery, and stick it in somebody’s ear. I have even found him trying to do this to our dog.
My middle daughter (8 years old now) is a big helper. She is always trying to do something for everybody else especially me and her siblings. Just the other day I was doing yard work and she made four peanut butter & jelly sandwiches with a big bowl of grapes for lunch. I would never ask her to do this but she took it upon herself to do. It was a very nice surprise. Sometimes I have to tell her that “I” am the daddy and she needs to let me do my job.
My youngest is pretty funny too, she’s four years old. She spends most of her time with me as I work from home. I am currently looking into getting her into preschool. She has a great domineer and is probably the easiest of the three to take care of. She just kind of does her own thing and is a very good girl. But, she is really into farts right now. She lets one go and then runs over pointing to her butt and laughs. I am trying to teach her it is inappropriate but it is so darn funny I can’t help but laugh. (wait… Are you saying that farts AREN’T funny?? when does one grow out of the fun of farts?!)
3. What type of CP does your son/daughter have?
My son has a very severe case of it. He cannot talk in his own voice except for a few words and even those are difficult to understand unless you really know him. (since I play a doctor on the internet, I asked if he had spastic quadriplegia. Sometimes I’m so smart it’s scary. )
4. What kind of therapy do you have set up (past/present/future)
He used to go to California Children Services once a week. Now, it is once every three months because with his particular situation; they have really done all they can for him.
5. What are some of the misconceptions you run into about CP?
The biggest misconception is that people who have cerebral palsy are mentally disabled. This is not the case. My son, although severely disabled; is EXTREMELY smart. He is getting a 4.0 GPA in school and knows just about everything; especially computers. There have been plenty of times where I was having a problem with my computer and he was able to fix it with ease. (you’re preaching to the choir here…)
6. What are your long term goals for your child?
I would love for my son to be able to walk one day. Since that is far-fetched and will most likely never happen; we are working diligently to have him learn to use an actual toilet. He is still in diapers. We are working on him actually being able to tell us when he has to use the bathroom and get him to go on the pot. (hmmm… Just like the rest of us posting here. Walking is a HUGE thing for all of us.)
7. Have you had to deal with bullying about your child?
Luckily no. My son is very popular at school and just about everybody knows him. I can’t even go to the store without somebody stopping to say “Hi” to him. His peers are fantastic and I have not only heard this from kids but from his teachers too. When he went from elementary school to middle school; the principal was really sad and said that him leaving was like losing the mascot to the school.
8. What is ONE thing you wished people knew about CP?
It isn’t contagious! You can come up to these people and have a conversation with them! I bet a million bucks that they would absolutely love to have somebody come up and talk to them instead of stare. (are you living my life??)
9. Do you actually take time for YOU??
ME??? Whats that?! Usually the only time I have for me (being a single dad with three kids) is when they go to bed at 8:30. I love bed time. Even then; I fall asleep on the couch by 9.
10. What other struggles have you had to deal with?
A lot of government crap! But, I don’t think this is the platform for me to vent. I have a ton I would like to say about the federal, state, and city government when it comes to disabled people in general. (you totally could have vented. Government crap is everywhere, not just in the states, unfortunately.)
11. Do you have a favourite quote?
I am constantly telling my son “Just do it! What do you think? You think you have cerebral palsy or something”? (I often say something similar to my friends about Jillian. )
12. Do you have anything else to add?
Quit staring. People with any kind of disability have a heart; they are just like you and me. Do you like people staring at you? Probably not. It is “OKAY” to ask somebody with a disability what their disability is. Most likely, they will be more than happy to educate you and let you know all about it.
Eric, thank you SO much for taking time and answering my questions! It’s been great to “meet” you!