Caring for a child with Cerebral Palsy
Cerebral palsy (CP) refers to a range of physical disabilities that interfere with a person’s ability to move. It is a neurological disorder caused by injury to the brain while a mother is pregnant, or shortly after the child is born. Symptoms of cerebral palsy are often noticed during infancy or the preschool years.
If you are caring for a child with cerebral palsy, here are some strategies that you can adapt in school or social settings in order to help your child thrive:
The physical movement issues involved in cerebral palsy can lead to challenges at school. Difficulty in controlling muscles can make it hard to move around a classroom. Apart from this, speech and languages issues can make it difficult to participate in classroom activities, make friends or socialize with others. Because of these, it is essential to find strategies to help your child succeed at school. Here is how you can do it:
- Talk to your school to make necessary adjustments: If your child goes to an inclusive school, meet with the authorities and ask them to make necessary changes to the school’s environment. The emphasis should be on making the school more accessible to students with physical disabilities, as well as learning disabilities and needs.
- Introduce your child’s teachers and therapist to one another: Children with cerebral palsy often see different therapists in and outside school. It can be helpful if you keep the communication open between the different therapists and teachers, and keep them updated about changes in progress or development. This can help everyone to coordinate together for the best support for your child.
- Ensure an accessible classroom floor plan: Mobility issues can make it difficult for kids with cerebral palsy to move around in the classroom. Teachers can take the child’s movement into consideration when setting up their classroom layout.
- Encourage your child’s personal interest and abilities: Like all children, those with cerebral palsy also have their own unique interests and special talents. These grow and develop over time as he gains new physical abilities and skills. You may be concerned about yours child as managing school can be challenging, but outside activities that are based on your child’s interests can give him a nice break from the demands of school. This will also help build confidence as he continues to nurture his abilities.
Behavioral Problems and Discipline Strategies
Research shows that kids with cerebral palsy tend to exhibit more behavioral problems than kids without it. This can be due to frustration with limitations, potential sleep deprivation because of sleep difficulties, which are more common in kids with CP. It is important to take the factors that contribute to your child’s behavior problems, as well as his personality and abilities into consideration when you’re establishing a discipline plan. Here are some effective discipline strategies that can improve behavior problems in children with cerebral palsy:
- Work on their social skills
- Channel their energy into activities that might be good for them
- Teach your child how to keep his emotions in check
- Praise good behavior and little things they do
- Consider a reward system like a sticker chart
- Be consistent with consequences
- Offer choices when possible
It is stressful to care for someone with special needs. Make sure you have plenty of support and that you’re taking time out for yourself to relax and feel refreshed. If you’re stressed out, your child will feel it too and this can actually affect his behavior in a negative way. Ask for help when you need it and give your complete self when caring for your child with cerebral palsy.