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How my cerebral palsy contributed to turning me into a computer geek…

A Tecra M9 – One of my first laptops. [Not mine]

While having a laptop or a tablet in school may seem completely normal nowadays, it wasn’t the case in the 2000s. I was the only one with a laptop in class, and people who didn’t know better didn’t quite get why. To make a long story short, writing with a pen or pencil is extremely difficult for me. I can sign documents, and write a few sentences but, that’s about it. Because of that, educators recommended that I used a laptop in class.

My laptop allowed me to type all my courses notes and assignments and to complete high school at the same time as other students. It was extremely empowering. Without a laptop, I was a kid with special needs, and with a laptop, I could write everything I wanted. To this day, typing on a computer is something that I absolutely love as it brings me so much joy. I write when I am sad, happy, angry, excited, etc.

Microsoft Word XP, Clippy included

You may ask how using Microsoft Word turned me into a tech-savvy user? Well, let say that I experimented a lot with software and that having my own device allowed me to spend more time doing just that. Obviously, my laptop couldn’t run the latest games, but I was far more interested in learning Windows, doing research, posting on forums, and emulating old systems.

So much time spent configuring .ini files

A quick learner…

By the time I was about 14, our computer technician told my father to let me re-install Windows on our main computer. I backed up all the files we needed and followed the steps I had learned. Reinstalling Windows was a bit trickier back then, but I managed to get it to work. It is worth noting that I couldn’t manage.

Since then, I have installed different operating systems ranging from Windows to Mac OS to different Linux Distros. At some point, I considered studying computer science, but my passion for language ultimately won. I was the go-to resource for my friends in college and I still help many people to this day. I also have fond memories of editing Wikipedia pages.

Looking back

Fast forward 10 years and many elementary and high school students use tablets or laptops. Not all of them engage with technology in the way that I do. I wouldn’t have gone so far if I wasn’t intellectually curious! Different people need different tools to unleash their true potential. Accommodations aren’t favours. Turns out I wasn’t an oddity or privileged, I was just ahead of my time.

My trusty T430

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