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Friendship: Connecting Over a Disability

By Jackie Orihill

Friends Kristen Marten and Shayne Sommer

People bond over things they have in common, from where they’re from to favorite movies. So it’s not surprising that some people bond, at first, over shared disabilities. For Shayne Sommer and Kristen Martin, they connect over all those things.


Both from Little Rock, Arkansas, they met at age 3-and-a-half at an Easterseals therapy conference in Washington, D.C.  They both live with cerebral palsy (CP) and received therapy at Easterseals in Arkansas, rolling on big, bouncy therapy balls and stretching on mats.


They went to kindergarten together, and over time kept reconnecting to watch movies and hang out. Now in their late 30s, both find comfort in the fact that they have a friend who understands what it’s like to live with cerebral palsy. “We understand what the other is going through,” says Kristen.


Shayne adds that she has stayed in touch with several people she met through Easterseals. “We all have difference levels of CP, but we get each other. The connection is still there after all this time.”

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