Meghan King shared a poignant story about her three-year-old son Hart’s experience with cerebral palsy in an effort to spread awareness and inspire empathy for those with invisible illnesses. The Real Housewives of Orange County alum and mom of three shared the story with her followers on Instagram.
“The other day it was raining and I had to park my car outside,” King recalled in the post. “Aspen said, ‘Okay guys, let’s run as fast as we can to go inside!’ Hayes said, ‘Yes! Let’s go!’ And Hart started crying. He said he can’t run as fast as them…and he can’t. Not because of his genetics but because of his cerebral palsy.”
Strangers might think Hart “looks and acts ‘normal’ (we say ‘typical’) but he’s not. He has a hidden disability that affects every part of his life—and mine,” King wrote. “And now he knows this and so do his siblings. It breaks my heart into a million pieces.”
Cerebral palsy is not one disorder but actually a group of neurological conditions that cause issues with muscle coordination, exaggerated reflexes, stiff muscles, and changes in gait, the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) explains. The symptoms typically begin to appear during infancy or early childhood, but the exact symptoms someone experiences can vary greatly from person to person, the Mayo Clinic says. Some might experience delays in speech development or trouble speaking while others might develop seizures, difficulty hearing, or changes in vision.
Although there’s no cure for cerebral palsy, there are treatments that can significantly improve the symptoms, NINDS says. The right treatment plan depends on each person’s specific symptoms, the Mayo Clinic says, and those needs can change over time. Treatment can include medications (such as muscle relaxants or muscle injections), supportive therapies (like speech therapy or physical therapy), and surgery to improve mobility and reduce pain.
King first shared Hart’s diagnosis publicly in a blog post about a year ago. “Hart will live a full, independent life. He will face challenges his siblings won’t and alternatively, they will face challenges he won’t but we just don’t know what those are yet,” she wrote at the time. “A diagnosis isn’t limiting, people are.”
And in her Instagram post, King clarified that her post “isn’t for sympathy—no special needs parent wants sympathy—it’s for awareness,” she wrote. “Sometimes we don’t know our neighbor’s full story, so let’s dig deeper for an extra ounce of empathy.”