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How to Help Your Child with Cerebral Palsy Thrive

Author
Alicia Betz
January 20, 2021

Cerebral Palsy, a condition affecting movement, balance, and posture, can range from mild to severe. When you learn your child has been diagnosed with cerebral palsy, it’s normal to cycle through a wide range of emotions, and ultimately, every parent wants their child to thrive. Giving a child with Cerebral Palsy a happy and fulfilling life is well within reach.

What Causes Cerebral Palsy?

Cerebral Palsy is caused by abnormal brain development or brain damage. This most often happens before or during birth, but it can also happen after birth in a small number of cases. The absolute cause of Cerebral Palsy is often not known, but in some cases it is a birth injury that could have been prevented with more adequate medical care before or during birth. 

When Cerebral Palsy is caused by a birth injury, you can contact a lawyer to seek justice and compensation for your child’s injury. Receiving monetary compensation is one way to help your child thrive and have access to the best care and resources.

How to Help Your Child with Cerebral Palsy

Many children are not diagnosed until they are one or two years old. As soon as you have a diagnosis, or even as soon as you suspect your child may have cerebral palsy, you can begin to make lifestyle changes and advocate for your child. 

Early Intervention

Early intervention is available for kids up to three years old, and it can help them learn valuable life skills and activities of daily living. The sooner you start early intervention the better, and you can have your child seen by a specialist before they are even diagnosed with cerebral palsy. There are many specialists your child might see through early intervention, including occupational therapists, physical therapists, and speech therapists.

Your child’s pediatrician can help set this up. However, in some cases, the pediatrician may believe it’s best to “wait and see.” If you strongly believe your child needs additional help, you don’t need a referral from the pediatrician for early intervention services. You can find contact information for early intervention in your area at the Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center.

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Special Education Services

Once your child enters school, he or she is entitled to special education services, which may include physical therapy, occupational therapy, or a wide range of other accommodations. Professionals at your child’s school will work to prepare an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) or a 504 Plan that includes accommodations your child needs to succeed and thrive. 

If you believe your child’s plan needs to be changed, or if school employees are not following the plan, you have every right to contact the school, request meetings, and ensure your child is getting what he or she needs.

Social Support

Children with Cerebral Palsy might struggle socially if they don’t fit in with their peers or they don’t feel included. Encourage your child to pursue activities that interest him or her where they’ll be more likely to find like-minded peers. 

If your child is struggling to fit in at school or is being bullied, get in touch with the principal, teachers, and/or school counselors. The staff might not be aware the bullying is happening, or they might need to work harder to come up with a helpful solution. 

Additionally, you have every right to talk to another child’s parent if there is a specific peer who is bullying or not including your child. Consider arranging playdates only with children who are kind to your child.

Physical Activity

Although even the simplest activities of daily living might prove to be extremely difficult or even impossible for your child, it’s still important for them to stay active. Physical activity might look very different from one child with Cerebral Palsy to the next. 

Physical activity can delay premature aging, and it can also improve your child’s mood, sleep, and physical health. Talk to your child’s pediatrician, physical therapist, and occupational therapist to create a list of activities that are fun and beneficial

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We are here to help you and loved ones advocate for justice. Feel free to send us any questions you might have, either about an injury or the process for pursuing justice so we can help you exercise your rights.

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