September 1-7 marks Spina Bifida Awareness Week. To help people gain a better understanding of the birth defect, which causes varying degrees of disability, we asked 10 year-old Michael McDonald to share an insight into what it’s like living with spina bifida.
My name is Michael McDonald. I’m 10 years old and in Year 5 at Poseidon Primary School. I have lots of friends at my school and my favourite sport is soccer. My favourite soccer team is Perth Glory and I like watching them play. I also have spina bifida, which I’ve had since I was born.
Spina bifida is the incomplete formation of the spinal cord which happens during the first few months of a baby’s development in the womb. Spina bifida affects everyone differently and can cause paralysis or weakness in the legs, bowel and bladder incontinence and specific learning difficulties. I don’t like having spina bifida because I can’t run fast like my friends.
Even though I don’t like having spina bifida, I can still do lots of things. Every Saturday I play wheelchair sports. I do a different sport each week like basketball, badminton, laser tag, rugby, hand ball, tennis and volleyball. My favourite wheelchair sport is basketball which I am the best at.
Because of my spina bifida I am also really good at using my wheelchair. I can do wheelies and turn corners really fast. I have also ridden quad bikes and horses which was fun.
At the start of the year I was super lucky to be chosen to toss the coin at the start of a Perth Glory match, which was very exciting. Every year I go on a spina bifida camp in Rockingham. While on camp I play soccer and footy with my friends. It’s really fun! Last year I got an iPad from Therapy Focus to help me with my schoolwork, but I also have some games on it that I can play. When I found out that i was getting an iPad i was happy and excited!
Even though I have spina bifida I can still go to my friend’s house on the school holidays. When I am at my friend’s house we like to play the Wii, which I am really good at. I really like going to my friend’s house to play.
Finally, even though I really don’t like having spina bifida and it means I can’t run fast, I can still do lots of fun things like tricks with my wheelchair and go to my friend’s house to play.
Pictured: Michael about to toss the coin at a Perth Glory home game.