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Thread: "Speechless:" Prime Time TV Show ~ Teen with CP and His Family

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    ((((((funnylegs4)))))) ~

    I'm glad that you were able to watch the episode. I only saw the last 10 minutes. I tried to watch it online, but our cable service has been bought out by another cable service, so I was not allowed to access it. I'll have to wait until the corporate takeover is complete. GAH! So irritating!

    In the scene, where JJ's PT is instructed by Mom to heal the younger brother of his awkward gait, I found irony on several levels. Why hasn't the younger brother had PT previously? JJ has been having PT for years, most likely. Has Mom just ignored younger brother's gait, while focusing on PT for JJ? (And since I missed the beginning of the show, does the younger brother actually have an awkward gait?)

    Mom was quite upset that JJ was missing his PT (which is completely understandable, considering how difficult it is to obtain PT these days). The PT was there, and Mom didn't want to waste the visit.

    What the younger brother endures during this PT session should give him empathy toward JJ. I'm hoping that manifests in future episodes. The PT was over the top, based upon my experience. Enthusiasm is one thing, but criticizing and negativity is entirely another. She achieved the opposite of the purpose by causing a lack of self confidence in the younger brother, who then is shunned at school by the girl on whom he has a crush.

    I can see some angst developing there, where younger brother looks at JJ and thinks, "People look at you and see a hero. People look at me and see a dork." That combined with, "JJ, I think I understand why you skipped PT." Teenage conflict.

    I especially liked the scene where Mom finds Kenneth (JJ's aide) and JJ in the bathroom. It's very difficult to entrust the care of your child to another person, and you know that no one else will care for your child the way you do or as well as you do. I felt Mom's relief, when she realized that Kenneth knew how to care for and transfer JJ for that most important and personal need.

    "What if something happens to me?" really weighs on Moms of children with disabilities and special needs. Also, realizing that Kenneth can handle toileting for JJ means on less time that Mom has to lift her now growing teenage son. We think about that too.

    Since I didn't see the beginning, I don't know what the kerfuffle was with the neighbors, but I could relate to the ending, where the entire family explains to the neighbors that they are not like them. Perfect homes, perfect landscaping, perfect everything. Nope. JJ's family doesn't fall into that category. Oh how I can relate to that.

    I actually told our homeowner's association 40 years ago, after numerous letters about my unlandscaped and unfenced new home, "My husband left me and my two severely disabled children. I work full time and care for my sons on my own. If you don't like the way our property looks, then we'd welcome your assistance in improving it. Bring your shovels, your grass seed, your flower seeds, some wood, hammers and nails, and your ideas and help me. I'm doing the best that I can."

    No neighbors showed up. No surprise. And to this day, we still get hassled for "violations." We had to get a new garage door in April to avoid a lien on our home, and we had one month to do it. Everyone in our neighborhood knows our family, our history, and that our son is ill. They've all seen and heard the fire trucks and paramedics arrive at our home. The ambulances carrying our sons to the hospital in the middle of the night/morning. They've all seen the steady stream of nurses, therapists, and other professionals come to our home. But they don't care.

    So, what I most appreciate about "Speechless" is that it is honestly addressing the reality of the lives of families with a disabled loved one. Not just JJ's challenges, but the challenges of every member of the family, as well as the family versus the community, versus the educational system, versus the ancillary care (PT) system, versus stereotypes, versus intolerance and lack of understanding of persons with disabilities.

    This is an ambitious project, in a Golden Prime Time slot, giving voice to the entirety of disabilities. JJ is the catalyst for all of the dynamics in this story. It's not just about JJ. It's about everyone in his world. I find that to be quite informative and extremely relatable.

    I hope that corporate take over is completed soon, so I can watch the whole episode!

    Love & Light,

    Rose
    Mom to Jon, 47, (seizure disorder; Gtube; trache; colostomy; osteoporosis; hypothyroid; enlarged prostate; lymphedema, assorted mysteries) and Michael, 32, (intractable seizures; Gtube), who were born with an undiagnosed progressive neuromuscular disease and courageous spirits. Our Angel Michael received his wings in 2003 and now resides in Heaven. Our Angel Jon lives at home with me and Jim, the world's most wonderful dad.

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  3. #12
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    ((((((funnylegs4)))))) ~

    Thanks to your link, I was able to watch the entire episode.

    I'm really relating to Mom more and more:

    Mom with the Principal ~ recounting the issues she's had with previous principals and using the "I have a lawyer" method of intimidation toward an "authority"

    Mom handing Kenneth a book about JJ's needs and care, sunscreen, etc. ~ "He's my world" ~ I've said that many times to aides, nurses, teachers, medical professionals, etc.

    Mom telling JJ "you will always be my baby" ~ It's difficult to watch our children grow up, become teens and adults, and realize how much their worlds change with that natural transition. One day, as I was driving my boys home from school, I heard a low male voice say, "Mommy" from the backseat. I nearly drove off the road! Jon's voice changed overnight. While I've always tried to treat my sons age appropriately, they are and always will be my babies.

    The connection is innate. When my mother died, my grandmother sobbed about her baby girl, who she carried under her bosom for 9 months.

    For me, having provided my sons' care all of their lives, it is even more pronounced.

    Mom observing Kenneth caring for JJ in the bathroom ~ as I mentioned in my previous post, I understood her relief.

    I think Minnie Driver is capturing the reality of Moms of children with special needs accurately. We have so many hats to wear, and we must be all things to all people in our circle. Mom to all of our kids, wife, daughter, sister, friend, advocate, medical expert, legal expert, educational expert, negotiator, detective. We have to be The Glue. And that is a major, exhausting challenge.

    And it doesn't matter how exhausted we are, we have to keep functioning, to keep everything working, to be dominant and present.

    One of Jon's high school teachers said that people either saw me as a "saint" or a "b--ch." Actually, I am neither. I'm just trying to maintain an even keel in the boat I'm paddling, so we stay afloat and reach our destination.

    Observation about Speechless "Dad" ~

    Dad's role is parenting the other son and daughter primarily, while Mom is hovering over JJ. It's also his job to remind Mom that she has to lighten up or let go of her obsessiveness. Mom thinks he doesn't get it, but he does, and she realizes he's cautioning her out of love for her.

    In this episode, when Dad tried to be the one in charge with the principal, he stumbled, and Mom had to correct him and feed him the "buzz words" to get the principal's attention. Typically, Moms handle these issues, so Dads are novices.

    Dad is a protector of every family member and their abode. It's unclear whether he has a job, and if so, what that job is, but he's obviously in charge of clean up after the family issues explode and make a mess.

    Sadly, the divorce rate among parents of children with disabilities and/or terminal illness is uniquely high. In most cases, as in mine, the "Dads" disappear and fail to support their children.

    So, it's pleasant to see a DAD in this series, who is calm and caring and able to go with the flow. Like my sons' Dad, Jim, who came into our lives, when they were in their early 20s. He has more than made up for the "absent sperm donor Dad."

    "Speechless" has great promise. I'm rooting for its success.

    Love & Light,

    Rose
    Mom to Jon, 47, (seizure disorder; Gtube; trache; colostomy; osteoporosis; hypothyroid; enlarged prostate; lymphedema, assorted mysteries) and Michael, 32, (intractable seizures; Gtube), who were born with an undiagnosed progressive neuromuscular disease and courageous spirits. Our Angel Michael received his wings in 2003 and now resides in Heaven. Our Angel Jon lives at home with me and Jim, the world's most wonderful dad.

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    I missed episode 3 on TV so I hope to catch it via youtube later but here is someone else's review http://toniasays.blogspot.com/2016/1...x03-b-o-n.html
    I like your thoughts Rose and I agree.
    Mild Spastic Diplegia Cerebral Palsy and bad proprioception.
    My website for my original short films! http://cripvideoproductions.com/cripsnotcreeps.php

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    ((((((funnylegs4)))))) ~

    Jon and I watched Episode 3, and I have to agree with Tonia, in that I was disappointed. I think I should watch it again more closely to see if my second viewing changes my opinion. I'll hold onto my review, until after you've had a chance to watch the episode, and I've had some time to view it again. I really want to love it, but my current attitude is not leading me there. I'm beginning to see the flaws unraveling. Stereotyping. Not good.

    Let me know when you have watched Episode 3 and please share your thoughts.

    Love & Light,

    Rose
    Mom to Jon, 47, (seizure disorder; Gtube; trache; colostomy; osteoporosis; hypothyroid; enlarged prostate; lymphedema, assorted mysteries) and Michael, 32, (intractable seizures; Gtube), who were born with an undiagnosed progressive neuromuscular disease and courageous spirits. Our Angel Michael received his wings in 2003 and now resides in Heaven. Our Angel Jon lives at home with me and Jim, the world's most wonderful dad.

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    I haven't watched the show but I stumbled across this video and it sure does say a lot. I love the word "bulletproof" It descries so amny families I know!

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p3i3fQHASX8

    I hope the link works.
    Mary Grace

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    Finally found the episode online after some detailed searching. My review of episode 3. At least the younger brother points out the snowplow thing is wrong and some of the lines like “I wanted you” were still funny. I think this episode sends really bizzare messages about fitting in. This episode is almost saying inclusion is the same as fitting in which it is not. This episode could have had a really great message about forcing fake inclusion, which often makes things worse, and how able bodied sometimes feel the disabled get “special” treatment instead of just getting what they need to function. But about halfway through the episode it seems to switch back to a thing about a need to be popular. JJ’s friends accept him back way too fast and the subplot with the sister could have been an entire episode and a much more interesting one at that but her story kind of got hidden under the “popularity” junk. This episodes writing was sloppy and if I wrote it I would have gone a different direction with it. I would have had the mom realize she had been wrong and say she should have considered the able bodied students more and then by the end of the episode had some kind of compromise worked out like how I work out compromises in real life to handle inclusion. That’s just my take on it initially. I may have more thoughts later but just a very weak episode in my opinion and this kind of sloppiness is what I feared would happen. I have seen movies and shows do the same kind of story with an able bodied character but with a disabled character the audience gets the short shift. Indeed disappointing.

    Rose,in the future, feel free to post your thoughts regardless of whether I have watched an episode. I have no problems with spoilers but if I did I can just not read the thread until I’m ready.

    Thanks Mary Grace! Yes there were good scenes in here but the scenes do not fit together well in the full episode.
    Mild Spastic Diplegia Cerebral Palsy and bad proprioception.
    My website for my original short films! http://cripvideoproductions.com/cripsnotcreeps.php

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    ((((((Hugs to All)))))) ~

    I haven't been able to find a way to re-watch the episode, so here is what I wrote immediately after viewing it with Jon.

    SPEECHLESS Season 1/Episode 3

    My gut reaction to this episode is disappointment. It feels like too much is crammed into the less than 1/2 hour show, and all of it is significant, worthy of more attention and development.

    MOM

    Mom is becoming overdone, and I fear that she is going to devolve into a caricature, rather than a complex character. Ignoring or sloughing off her other two children, with constant devotion to JJ, is not appealing. It is unfair to her children, and it is imbalanced.

    SIBLINGS

    I don’t have experience in raising a non-disabled child, as well as a child with disabilities. Both of my sons required all of my attention, and all of my fighting for their rights and inclusion. I’ve known many families with special needs children and non-disabled children. In some cases, the non-disabled child felt responsible for his/her disabled sibling, as well as left out by his/her parent(s) ~ typically a single Mom. But in many more cases, the non-disabled child is loved, cherished, encouraged, and becomes a strong advocate for his/her disabled sibling.

    JJ’s siblings are coping with these feelings. Kenneth tells JJ’s sister that she’s into running, because JJ can’t run. This is taking away her individuality. JJ’s brother, Ray, is struggling as an awkward adolescent with the dysfunctionality of his family.

    DAD

    Their home is filled with junk. It’s a mess. Embarrassing.

    Dad says that collecting junk is the result of having a child with special needs, and then he tells Ray that JJ turned out better than the other kids, “who will not be named.” Even if Dad is joking, it’s hurtful.

    CANCELING THE BONFIRE

    Mom was wrong to insist on canceling the bonfire, because it wasn’t accessible to JJ. A better way to approach this issue would have been to brainstorm on how to make the beach accessible for JJ. Lay some plywood on the sand, so his wheelchair can traverse over it to the bonfire and back to the parking lot. Find a beach that is accessible. Create a new tradition, which would be accessible. (Bonfires in California, even at the beach, might be prohibited during our drought, in fact.)

    Instead, Mom sets up a situation, where JJ’s peers believe that he is the reason why they can’t have what they want and are used to having. I get the point here, of course. I don’t know how many times I heard from parents of regular ed kids that my kids “special needs,” (and yes, they used air quotes) were taking away educational opportunities from their kids. No. School districts have separate funding for regular ed and special ed.

    This was a teachable moment for viewers, who aren’t familiar with special needs children. And “Speechless" blew it.

    And how is it remedied? Mom ties JJ to the goal posts and allows his peers to believe the opposing football team did it. Lying. Perpetuating the concept of intolerance, by using JJ as a prop. How does this help JJ? Or his peers? It doesn’t.

    QUIRKINESS OF THE FAMILY

    Last week, it was sending pizzas to a neighbor as a prank. This week, it was “stealing” the belongings of a girl in Ray’s class, thinking it was trash on the curb. Ray returns the goods, only to discover ALL of the girls in his class are at this home. Humiliation. For a teenager, that is particularly deflating. I was sad for Ray.

    Why are Mom and Dad completely over the top in their quirkiness? Does Dad work? Does Mom work? What is the income source for this family? Why can’t they put some elbow grease into tidying up their home, fixing/repairing it, tending to their yard? At least Dad did clean up on Ray’s behalf. They could all work together to make their home a pleasant place to live, but they don't want to invest in it, because they'll likely move again to find a better school for JJ. That's not how it works here. I can testify to that.

    And, I’ve got to say it: Last week, I didn’t appreciate that the entire family told the neighborhood that they were “Idiots.” That they would be the worst neighbors imaginable. “If a package meant for you is delivered to our house, we’ll keep it.” That’s not funny to me at all.

    BECAUSE I have children with disabilities, I make an extra effort to be nice to my neighbors. I don’t want people to think that I’m angry, bitter, burdened, and over stressed. There have been times, when I’ve been pushed to my limit with some of our neighbors, but for the most part, I go along to get along.

    I see stereotyping in Speechless, and that concerns me. I can relate to some of the scenes, but on the whole, after watching this episode, I have my qualms about its direction.

    Rating (1 out of 10): 3

    Love & Light,

    Rose
    Mom to Jon, 47, (seizure disorder; Gtube; trache; colostomy; osteoporosis; hypothyroid; enlarged prostate; lymphedema, assorted mysteries) and Michael, 32, (intractable seizures; Gtube), who were born with an undiagnosed progressive neuromuscular disease and courageous spirits. Our Angel Michael received his wings in 2003 and now resides in Heaven. Our Angel Jon lives at home with me and Jim, the world's most wonderful dad.

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  10. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Earth Mother 2 Angels View Post
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    ((((((Hugs to All)))))) ~

    I haven't been able to find a way to re-watch the episode, so here is what I wrote immediately after viewing it with Jon.

    SPEECHLESS Season 1/Episode 3

    My gut reaction to this episode is disappointment. It feels like too much is crammed into the less than 1/2 hour show, and all of it is significant, worthy of more attention and development.

    MOM

    Mom is becoming overdone, and I fear that she is going to devolve into a caricature, rather than a complex character. Ignoring or sloughing off her other two children, with constant devotion to JJ, is not appealing. It is unfair to her children, and it is imbalanced.

    SIBLINGS

    I don’t have experience in raising a non-disabled child, as well as a child with disabilities. Both of my sons required all of my attention, and all of my fighting for their rights and inclusion. I’ve known many families with special needs children and non-disabled children. In some cases, the non-disabled child felt responsible for his/her disabled sibling, as well as left out by his/her parent(s) ~ typically a single Mom. But in many more cases, the non-disabled child is loved, cherished, encouraged, and becomes a strong advocate for his/her disabled sibling.

    JJ’s siblings are coping with these feelings. Kenneth tells JJ’s sister that she’s into running, because JJ can’t run. This is taking away her individuality. JJ’s brother, Ray, is struggling as an awkward adolescent with the dysfunctionality of his family.

    DAD

    Their home is filled with junk. It’s a mess. Embarrassing.

    Dad says that collecting junk is the result of having a child with special needs, and then he tells Ray that JJ turned out better than the other kids, “who will not be named.” Even if Dad is joking, it’s hurtful.

    CANCELING THE BONFIRE

    Mom was wrong to insist on canceling the bonfire, because it wasn’t accessible to JJ. A better way to approach this issue would have been to brainstorm on how to make the beach accessible for JJ. Lay some plywood on the sand, so his wheelchair can traverse over it to the bonfire and back to the parking lot. Find a beach that is accessible. Create a new tradition, which would be accessible. (Bonfires in California, even at the beach, might be prohibited during our drought, in fact.)

    Instead, Mom sets up a situation, where JJ’s peers believe that he is the reason why they can’t have what they want and are used to having. I get the point here, of course. I don’t know how many times I heard from parents of regular ed kids that my kids “special needs,” (and yes, they used air quotes) were taking away educational opportunities from their kids. No. School districts have separate funding for regular ed and special ed.

    This was a teachable moment for viewers, who aren’t familiar with special needs children. And “Speechless" blew it.

    And how is it remedied? Mom ties JJ to the goal posts and allows his peers to believe the opposing football team did it. Lying. Perpetuating the concept of intolerance, by using JJ as a prop. How does this help JJ? Or his peers? It doesn’t.

    QUIRKINESS OF THE FAMILY

    Last week, it was sending pizzas to a neighbor as a prank. This week, it was “stealing” the belongings of a girl in Ray’s class, thinking it was trash on the curb. Ray returns the goods, only to discover ALL of the girls in his class are at this home. Humiliation. For a teenager, that is particularly deflating. I was sad for Ray.

    Why are Mom and Dad completely over the top in their quirkiness? Does Dad work? Does Mom work? What is the income source for this family? Why can’t they put some elbow grease into tidying up their home, fixing/repairing it, tending to their yard? At least Dad did clean up on Ray’s behalf. They could all work together to make their home a pleasant place to live, but they don't want to invest in it, because they'll likely move again to find a better school for JJ. That's not how it works here. I can testify to that.

    And, I’ve got to say it: Last week, I didn’t appreciate that the entire family told the neighborhood that they were “Idiots.” That they would be the worst neighbors imaginable. “If a package meant for you is delivered to our house, we’ll keep it.” That’s not funny to me at all.

    BECAUSE I have children with disabilities, I make an extra effort to be nice to my neighbors. I don’t want people to think that I’m angry, bitter, burdened, and over stressed. There have been times, when I’ve been pushed to my limit with some of our neighbors, but for the most part, I go along to get along.

    I see stereotyping in Speechless, and that concerns me. I can relate to some of the scenes, but on the whole, after watching this episode, I have my qualms about its direction.

    Rating (1 out of 10): 3

    Love & Light,

    Rose
    I have to agree Rose, especially the part about canceling the bonfire, and you worded it better. I saw hints of these types of problems from the first trailer but wanted to approach with a more open mind as everybody deserves to tell their story i.e free speech but episode 3 is a step in the wrong direction with too much laser focus on so called "disability activism" and the characters NOT being properly developed. The subplot gags just seem downright bad. I like seeing all of these episodes though because it helps me see what NOT to do in my writing of the disabled. If the episodes continue on episode 3's style this show will get boring fast. Too bad.
    Mild Spastic Diplegia Cerebral Palsy and bad proprioception.
    My website for my original short films! http://cripvideoproductions.com/cripsnotcreeps.php

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    ((((((funnylegs4)))))) ~

    I'm not concerned about the show becoming boring, actually. I'm concerned about it becoming an inaccurate representation of families with a member, who has a disabling condition. Specifically, a special needs child. I'm concerned about it being a parody, just to get laughs, thereby hanging onto the audience of "The Goldbergs" and "Modern Family," the shows between which "Speechless" is sandwiched. I know little about these two shows, but I think that Modern Family does over the top situations and exaggerates stereotypes.

    You're probably too young to know about or have watched "Life Goes On."

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Life_Goes_On_(TV_series)

    This series was very well written, directed, and acted. It was a drama/comedy. Very classy compared to "Speechless."

    As far as the comedy genre, none of today's sit coms can compare to the gems of the 70s and 80s ~ WKRP in Cincinnati, Frasier, Cheers, Barney Miller ~ the list is long. Character-driven comedies seem to be passe'. And that's a shame. Because if ever a subject cried out to be character-driven, it's "Speechless." Instead, we get chopped up scenes, no continuity, many questions about the characters/their motivation/their background.

    Maybe you and I should write the scripts for "Speechless!" Whaddya think? Eh? Yeah, I KNOW we could do better!

    Love & Light,

    Rose
    Mom to Jon, 47, (seizure disorder; Gtube; trache; colostomy; osteoporosis; hypothyroid; enlarged prostate; lymphedema, assorted mysteries) and Michael, 32, (intractable seizures; Gtube), who were born with an undiagnosed progressive neuromuscular disease and courageous spirits. Our Angel Michael received his wings in 2003 and now resides in Heaven. Our Angel Jon lives at home with me and Jim, the world's most wonderful dad.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Earth Mother 2 Angels View Post
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    ((((((funnylegs4)))))) ~

    I'm not concerned about the show becoming boring, actually. I'm concerned about it becoming an inaccurate representation of families with a member, who has a disabling condition. Specifically, a special needs child. I'm concerned about it being a parody, just to get laughs, thereby hanging onto the audience of "The Goldbergs" and "Modern Family," the shows between which "Speechless" is sandwiched. I know little about these two shows, but I think that Modern Family does over the top situations and exaggerates stereotypes.

    You're probably too young to know about or have watched "Life Goes On."

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Life_Goes_On_(TV_series)

    This series was very well written, directed, and acted. It was a drama/comedy. Very classy compared to "Speechless."

    As far as the comedy genre, none of today's sit coms can compare to the gems of the 70s and 80s ~ WKRP in Cincinnati, Frasier, Cheers, Barney Miller ~ the list is long. Character-driven comedies seem to be passe'. And that's a shame. Because if ever a subject cried out to be character-driven, it's "Speechless." Instead, we get chopped up scenes, no continuity, many questions about the characters/their motivation/their background.

    Maybe you and I should write the scripts for "Speechless!" Whaddya think? Eh? Yeah, I KNOW we could do better!

    Love & Light,

    Rose
    I agree because I have seen reruns of 70s and 80s shows and they are much better than what is on the market now. Lauren Faust, creator of My Little Pony Friendship is Magic said it this way "Tropes with a twist are good. Stereotypes are bad." Shows like "Golden Girls" also covered relevant issues like homosexuality. I wish Sitcoms were more like that nowadays. I don't like how shows go around using cheap gags. For "Speechless" I want them to explore relationships between the characters and how the disability effects these interactions more. They started to in the earlier episodes already. I didn't know there used to be a show with a Down Syndrome character! That's awesome! YES WE COULD TOTALLY WRITE BETTER EPISODES! Want to collab sometime? :) My relative saw episode 3 of "Speechless" and said "You should write a TV pilot and mail it into TV stations. Your work is better than this!! " LOL.
    Last edited by funnylegs4; 10-09-2016 at 02:47 PM.
    Mild Spastic Diplegia Cerebral Palsy and bad proprioception.
    My website for my original short films! http://cripvideoproductions.com/cripsnotcreeps.php

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