Good Reads About Life with Cerebral Palsy

A difficult element to living with a disability entails isolation. I mean others around you can only comprehend the issues you deal with to a certain extent. Books about living with disabilities enable you to shed isolation and feel a connection previously unknown to you. While writing Off Balanced I read and reviewed a number of books about living with cerebral palsy. To commemorate the Q & A about Off Balanced I did with Good Readers’ Dee Owen (now live at the Book Readers blog) I’ve compiled a list, featuring excerpts of my book reviews, for cerebral palsy tales.

We’ve Come This Far by Faith By Dr. Darrell Pone

“As somebody with cerebral palsy, I really connected with Dr. Pone’s message. I have faced a lot of the same issues Dr. Pone has faced, and if I haven’t faced those issues personally, I’ve talked to others with CP who had. For instance, in reference to his childhood, Dr. Pone writes, “Children would tease me about the way I talked and walked.” While I never really encountered teasing, I know many with CP who unfortunately did.”

Read my full We’ve Come This Far by Faith review at

Living This Rodeo (Audio Book) By Shane Michael Taylor

“The most effective parts of Living This Rodeo also happen to be the most revealing parts. In Chapter 7 Taylor discloses his struggles with self-confidence and dating caused by his cerebral palsy to illustrate the power of negative self talk. As an adolescent Taylor feared confronting girls he liked because he didn’t think the girls would want a guy in a wheelchair. Even if a girl did go for him, he remained cautious out of fear an involuntary muscle spasm would cause him to accidentally hit the girl. “

Checkout my complete Yahoo! Voices Living This Rodeo book review.

Someone Like Me By John W. Quinn

“John W. Quinn reveals the significant power support from friends and family can have on an individual with a disability. Quinn’s awe-inspiring story, in fact, almost ended before getting started. Quinn failed his first Navy physical, a feat his recruiter couldn’t believe. ‘How can you fail the exam? Everyone passes this thing. It’s easy! Everyone!’ The recruiter’s reaction vastly discouraged Quinn but John’s father along with his best friend Phil challenged him to try again.”

Someone Like Me By John W. Quinn

I highly recommend reading Someone Like Me by John W. Quinn.

See my entire Someone Like Me review at Yahoo! Voices.

Daddy Bent-Legs By Neil Matheson

“Neil Matheson offers a great conversation starter for discussing inclusion with Daddy Bent-Legs. Misconceptions about disabilities serve as one obstacle preventing thriving inclusive communities. In Daddy Bent-Legs Matheson shares instances where he encounters benevolent ignorance. For instance, as a kid growing up in the 1970s and 80s adults confronted young Neil with the question ‘What’s wrong with you?’  The question, triggered by the visual nature of Matheson’s cerebral palsy, instantly recognizes disabilities as negative.”

Read my complete Yahoo! Voices Daddy Bent-Legs review.

How We Roll By Tim Wambach

“Reading How We Roll will really get you thinking about life from the perspective of someone in a wheelchair and in the process get you to appreciate your own life more. For instance, Wambach recalls one time while waiting with Mike for the elevator to come three kids approaching the duo to inquire about riding the elevator with Mike. When Mike asked them why they wanted to ride the elevator their leader answered ‘Elevators are cool. And we don’t want to take the stairs.’ Mike responded ‘Be thankful you can take the stairs.'”

For my full How We Roll review, visit Yahoo! Voices.


Book News: Upcoming Publicity

Before I get into what you can expect regarding Off Balanced publicity in the upcoming weeks, I wanted to remind you my teenage memoir remains available on the Kindle and Nook at a special $4.22 birthday celebratory list price FOR ONLY A FEW MORE HOURS. So, if your to-do list contains “buy Off Balanced,” save yourself 30% and make the purchase tonight!

Now, I’m always excited to find new opportunities for spreading the word regarding Off Balanced. I’m especially hyped about an upcoming guest blog post I’ll be providing The Tribe Daily, a Cleveland Indians blog, this week. In the post I’ll examine the empowering effects of being a sports fan, focusing on how my love for Cleveland Indians baseball helped guide me to a writing career.  Look for my guest The Tribe Daily post to go live on the blogosphere Tuesday (April 24th).

Go Tribe!

My love for Cleveland Indians baseball started at a young age.

Moving forward, Book Readers‘ Dee Owen will interview me on Monday, April 30th. However, you don’t have to wait until the 30th to obtain all the insights I plan to share with Dee. To catch a sneak peak of what Dee and I might talk about, watch the Youtube video “Answering Preliminary Interview Questions for Book Readers.” 🙂


Book News: Save 30% on Off Balanced, New Review

A week from today (Sunday, April 22nd) is my birthday. To celebrate the upcoming day and  help encourage more people to checkout Off Balanced, I’ve decided for this week ONLY to reduce Off Balanced‘s list price from the normal $5.99 to a special $4.22 (Get it?). If you do the math, that equates to 30% off! This deals applies for both the Kindle and Nook.

Save 30% Now and Buy Off Balanced for the Kindle

  Save 30% Now and Buy Off Balanced for the Nook

With the discounted list price, there seems no better time to discover for yourself why Off Balanced continues receiving strong praise from reviewers. Most recently Matt Marcinek (@disabledgrapplr) who runs  a blog called Disabled Grappler  said some nice things about my teenage memoir. Amongst those words include the following:

(Zach) does a masterful job of drawing his readers  in and making emotional connections to help them understand   the trials, tribulations and triumphs he faced and overcame as a disabled person  in an ‘able bodied’ persons world.”

Overall Matt Marcinek highly recommends Off Balanced and for the next week ONLY you can explore why first hand while saving 30%! If you don’t own a Kindle or Nook, you can still take advantage of the sale by  downloading one of Amazon’s many free Kindle reading apps.

Book News: Publicity for Off Balanced

Wow! Off Balanced hit the Kindle and Nook bookshelves nearly five months ago already. During these five months I’ve garnered a decent amount of attention around the blogosphere and within the media. Yet I’m determined to reach as many people as possible with Off Balanced so my marketing efforts will naturally only continue.

If you regularly visit this blog’s “Links” tab located at the top of the page, you probably noticed some new links put up over the past couple weeks. However, I’m sure you don’t check that page routinely so here’s a rundown of what has been added.

First, last month I came across a new Off Balanced review actually posted in February. The review managed to evade the daily Goggle Alerts email I setup for my name. Still, I located the review from children’s book author Zach Wood by performing a Google search. Incidentally, I interviewed Wood recently for an article I need to get going on writing. If you read this my fellow Zach, I’m sorry. My time management lacked a little since our interview. Shame on me! Enough about the past, read Wood’s thoughts on my teenage memoir, “Review of Book Off Balanced by Zachary Fenell“.


Carlos Goes to Preschool by Zach Wood

Zach Wood, who reviewed Off Balanced, is the author of the children's book Carlos Goes to Preschool. Photo:

Moving on, I mentioned previously on the Off Balanced blog providing a guest post to Big Tent Jobs, a resource for disability employment. The post, “We Hold the Power: a Perspective on Disability Employment,” went live March 20th. I discuss the importance to how you perceive your disability, drawing a parallel to what I write about in Off Balanced. I hope you find the Big Tent Jobs post empowering.

Finally, last Tuesday I was the guest on Janet Elaine Smith’s live talk show Marketing for Fun and Profit. We conversed about my teenage memoir, disabilities in general, and of course marketing. I highly recommend Janet’s show to anyone interested in writing a book. The podcast will help give you realistic insight into publishing. Our archived discussion should get added to soon.

Breaking Down Barriers with the Mentally Challenged

On Thursday, April 5th I along with my friend and Cleveland State of Mind blogging cohort Peter Fenn attended opening day for the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field (read about the experience at Yahoo! Sports). We decided to take The Rapid down to avoid any kind of parking hassles. What does any of this have to do with disabilities? I’m getting there, I promise.

Finally, after 16 innings and five plus hours of baseball Peter and I found ourselves amongst a mass of people walking towards The Rapid station. Suddenly I hear “Your shoe is untied!” I looked to my left to see an individual pointing ahead. By this man’s mannerisms I deduced he is mentally challenged. I followed his finger to see what he was pointing to and I saw a young kid, probably in elementary school, walking with what I’ll assume to be his dad. Glancing down I saw the kid’s right shoe untied.

What occurred next disturbed me a little, at least at first. The father puts his arm around his young son and begins picking up their pace. The reaction seemed like something you might do if a child predator was around. When the father and son could no longer hear me I turned to Peter and commented “That seemed a little unnecessary. All he was trying to do was help.”

The situation made me wonder, “Why?” An answer didn’t take long to come to me. For the record I find this answer an understandable one. By human nature the unknown creates uneasiness. Most people don’t spend time around mentally challenged individuals so they don’t know how to act when an interaction like the above happens.

Honestly, I might have acted the same way a year ago before I started volunteering with Euclid Adult Activities Center, a facility of Cuyahoga County Board of Developmental Disabilities. Yet working with the mentally handicapped has shown me they mostly maintain good intentions.


Cuyahoga County Board of Developmental Disabilities logo Photo: PrtSc Image from

In conclusion I hope this post stays with you so if you ever experience an encounter like the one I describe here, you can fight your natural instinct to scurry and perhaps instead give a little acknowledgement saying, “Thanks for pointing that out.”

Sixth Grade Choir Photograph, Evidence of Discrimination?

May I safely assume we all know the story of “The Boy Who Cried Wolf”? Good! Today I’d like to explore the idea of crying discrimination. The word “discrimination” often conjures up very strong emotions, which in return can prevent us from seeking the full story. Consequently, actions then get misconstrued. I believe this to be the case with a recent news item discussed by The Stir‘s Jeanne Sager.

Sager writes about the following photograph, posted to Facebook Tuesday, March 27th by Alex Pollard’s mother.

Alex Pollard at his choir concert Tuesday, March 27th

Cobb County School District describes the scene pictured above as a "regrettable oversight." Photo: Facebook

As I’m sure you accurately deduced, Alex is the sixth grader in the wheelchair off to the side. Outrage continues to spread across the Internet over the picture. While plenty of critics prove more than justified in their criticisms, others seem to be turning the situation into something it’s not. For example, take Sager’s comment,

“But for Alex Wilson, being different has come to mean being ignored.”

Initially the writer/editor within me screams out “FACT CHECK, FACT CHECK!” Yes, the last name of Alex’s mother is Wilson but according to 11 Alive News Alex’s last name is Pollard. Enough about pesky details though. I want to focus on the notion presented that Alex getting ignored proves reoccurring. A statement released by the school notes the following.

“(Alex) has been a member of the chorus for the entire school year and there have been no prior issues.”

The school went on to explain the person who usually wheels Alex onto the stage remained absent at the choir concert and calls what happened a “regrettable oversight.” I personally believe “regrettable oversight” serves as a gross understatement. However, I do not feel enough evidence exists to label the events at South Cobb High School Tuesday, March 27th “discrimination.” I consider what happened to Alex an inexcusable mistake, NOT an intentional action meant to exclude an individual with a disability from participating in an extra-curricular activity.

Now 11  Action News does report choir director Lars Grevstad claims to not have seen Alex off to the side. Alex’s mother counters this by saying the director personally welcomed her son before the performance started. I really can’t correctly debate this reasoning without first knowing what the mother means by “before the performance started.” Did the alleged welcome occur when Alex arrived at the high school? Or, did the director literally walk up to Alex, welcome him immediately before the singing started, and then walk back to the center? I find the latter hard to fathom.

Given my thoughts here you might wonder, do I condone what happened at South Cobb High School Tuesday, March 27th? No, of course not. Perhaps no comment demonstrates my point better than repeating my earlier words.

“I consider what happened to Alex an inexcusable mistake, NOT an intentional action meant to exclude an individual with a disability from participating in an extra-curricular activity.

In conclusion, we in the disability community should stay cautious about crying discrimination. This will help us avoid encountering the same fate as The Boy Who Cried Wolf.