LOVE them, do not treat them differently.
This was the advice from Mela Tidrau to the people of Fiji as the nation marked World Cerebral Palsy Day at the Hilton Hostel in Suva yesterday.
Ms Tidrau, 26, is the mother of seven-year-old Valerau Tidrau who suffers from quadriparesis, a type of cerebral palsy that affects all four limbs.
He had been attending the Hilton School of Intervention in Suva since he was one.
"Every time we come out in public, I could always feel people watching us. Sometimes I could see them laughing and pointing to their head to mean that my son was mad," Ms Tidrau said.
"It hurts me to see society look at and treat him differently. My heart aches when we come out in public because I know people are looking and judging him already even without understanding his condition."
Ms Tidrau, who gave birth to Valerau in Vunisea, Kadavu, said the only thing they needed was love and equal treatment.
"When I found out that he had cerebral palsy, I was so shocked. I had never seen anything like it. But you just learn to live with it, he is still my son, regardless of his condition and I will always love him and treat him as a normal human being."
She said her son was born a month premature, suffering from severe jaundice, and later feared something was not right when he turned one.
"He hadn't turned or started crawling — everything that a baby was supposed to do at his age. We were referred to CWM Hospital but we met an European lady before the trip and she immediately recognised that my son had cerebral palsy."
She admitted life had not been easy for her but she sources her strength from her son who refuses to give up on life.
"He loves watching cartoons, hates violent movies and eats anything that we give him."