See Me for the Person I Am

A personal look at living with a disability
My name is Riley Doyle, and I am a graphic designer on the cSw Creative Team this year. I have Congenital Bilateral Perisylvian Syndrome (CBPS), more commonly known as Polymicrogria, the umbrella term. This rare neurological disorder can cause uncontrolled seizures, developmental delays and speech and feeding issues. Doctors are not sure of its cause but it is often a genetic mutation. Treatments include medications to control seizures and intensive physical, occupational and speech therapy.

I was diagnosed at age two and a half after an MRI of my brain revealed that my gyri, the ridges of the brain, were too small and there were too many around the sylvian area. My parents took me to a neurologist at the National Institutes of Health where they learned that I would probably have seizures, be cognitively delayed and always need a device to communicate. However, my case is mild and I work hard. My parents have taken me to speech therapy twice a week since I was two and I had occupational therapy for three years in elementary school. I have never had a seizure and do not need a device to communicate; however, my speech is not typical and some words are hard to understand.

Although I try to look at the positive side of CBPS, I have my share of emotional struggles. My speech delay causes me to have social anxiety, and I worry about what the future holds. People tend to judge me after they hear me speak, but my disability is only one part of me. I also like to eat ice cream, draw and watch ice hockey. If I were asked to give advice to people, I would say to treat me like you want to be treated by others. It sounds cheesy but it is true. My speech does not represent my intelligence. I have the same aspirations that any other high school senior has; going to college, getting a job and living a successful life. Everybody is different, but at the same time, we are all the same.