Adapted: My life with cerebral palsy

It’s been nine years in the making but now an Island writer has been given the chance to tell his story about life with cerebral palsy.Josh Barry, 31, of East Cowes, is this month launching his autobiography, ‘Adapted’, the story of his life and his determination not to be defined by his disability.  

His condition means writing the book has been a lengthy process, with Josh having to type on his iPad with his nose.

“My cerebral palsy makes me have a lot of unwanted movement, as a result of the messages from my brain becoming jumbled,” he said. “I lack the physical dexterity to do anything with any sort of precision. I can’t walk unaided and my speech is difficult to understand to the untrained ear. Thankfully, my disability only affects me physically and instead of pondering over the things I can’t do, I have enjoyed discovering new challenges that I can. Luckily, the art of writing has always been something which I’ve had great confidence in and, with my iPad, this is one of the only things I can do independently.”

It was Josh’s unique perspective on the world which provided the inspiration for his book.

He said: “Adapted is essentially the book of my life. It deals with all aspects of my disability, from coming to terms with my limitations as a man to discussions about how others see me. It’s a celebration of my achievements, both personal and professional, with detailed accounts about how I see myself as a 31-year-old male in 21st century Britain.” 

Since starting the book nine years ago, Josh’s life has changed massively. He graduated from Bournemouth University with a BA in scriptwriting for film and television before completing an MA in writing for the media. He then wrote and produced a radio documentary, called Following The Money, about the history of theatrical agents in the UK.

He said: “It’s been a very long process – nine years to be exact! It’s amazing how my attitude to certain things has changed during that time. When I first graduated with my BA, I think I saw my life very differently. I was slightly angry at how I had been misrepresented and my ability underestimated. Yet, with the benefit of maturity, I can see it may have actually been my own insecurities about how I thought others saw me. It was very cathartic to reflect upon past situations and think about how I would behave differently or manage things in a different way. I found certain parts very emotional, especially when discussing those people who mean a lot to me. Sometimes it felt like a form of mental therapy as I felt like I needed to get a lot off my chest.”

Today, Josh also runs a website, www.beyondthetitle.co.uk, where he interviews celebrities from the entertainment industry.

Josh’s website was inspired by his friendship with Island showbiz journalist John Hannam, which has led to him interviewing stars such as Tanni Grey Thompson, Leslie Ash and Jimmy Tarbuck, to name a few.

He said: “I’ve always been fascinated by the world of entertainment. Whenever I watched television as a child, I was always struck by the glitz and glamour of the stage. Entertainers like Cilla Black and Bruce Forsyth captured my imagination because of how they developed a rapport with their public and how easily they interacted with audiences. As a result of my problems with my speech, I realised I couldn’t emulate these heroes but I could still contribute to some sort of entertainment output. Then I discovered the art of scriptwriting and with the help of local scriptwriter; the late great Jeremy Davies, I wrote my first two scripts; one a sitcom and the other a drama. This whetted my appetite for the genre and laid the foundations for my creative voice.

“John was a great source of inspiration to me and I was astonished by just how many interviews he’s conducted over his 40-year career. To me, they were more than interviews, they were a natural timestamp of how people felt about themselves in a specific time in their lives. This appealed to me and with my experience of making a documentary I wanted to attempt to collect audio interviews of my own.  I just hope that everyone enjoys reading the book as much as I have enjoyed writing it,” said Josh. “This book really has given me an opportunity to tell a story and a side to my life that both myself and other people in similar situations to me don’t have the opportunity to do too often. Hopefully this will be the springboard to bigger and better things and I can’t wait to see what I do next.”

The book will be available to buy this autumn.

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