How To Support A Child With Cerebral Palsy

A child’s cerebral palsy diagnosis affects his or her entire family, leading to uncertainty. Once you have come to terms with the challenges presented by cerebral palsy as a parent, your next thought will be how to support your child and help him/her maximise their potentials despite the condition.

READ ALSO: Everything You Should Know About Cerebral Palsy

Various forms of therapy and rehabilitation improve patients’ quality of life and reduce the incidence of complications tied to the disorder.

Treatment plans are highly individualized, addressing conditions present in each case.

Although, the focus of this article is support for cerebral palsy kids, it is important to mention that treatment options are available broadly covered by:

  • Medications
  • Therapy
  • Surgery

READ ALSO: How I Discovered My Child Has Cerebral Palsy

Once  treatment is over with, supporting a child becomes the focus of the family as well as caregivers. Support can be organised into professional and home based types.

Therapy/Professional Support:

  • Physical therapy: Muscle training and exercises may help your child’s strength, flexibility, balance, motor development and mobility. You’ll also learn how to safely care for your child’s everyday needs at home, such as bathing and feeding your child.For the first 1 to 2 years after birth, both physical and occupational therapists provide support with issues such as head and trunk control, rolling, and grasping. Later, both types of therapists are involved in wheelchair assessments.Braces or splints may be recommended for your child. Some of these supports help with function, such as improved walking. Others may stretch stiff muscles to help prevent rigid muscles (contractures).
  • Occupational therapy: Using alternative strategies and adaptive equipment, occupational therapists work to promote your child’s independent participation in daily activities and routines in the home, the school and the community.

           Adaptive equipment may include walkers, quadrupedal canes, seating systems or electric wheelchairs.

READ ALSO: Five Beautiful Things To Say To Parents Of A Child With Special Needs

  • Speech and language therapy: Speech-language pathologists can help improve your child’s ability to speak clearly or to communicate using sign language. Speech-language pathologists can also teach your child to use communication devices, such as a computer and voice synthesizer, if communication is difficult.

READ ALSO: Man Living With Cerebral Palsy, Joshua Sopeju, Beats The Odds to Become Computer Science Graduate

Home Based Support:

Home based support are essentially things you can do at home to improve your child’s quality of life, together with therapy, other parents have been able to help better the lot of their affected child and greatly advance their quality of life.

See simple ideas below:

  • Read to your child.
  • Speak slowly and clearly.
  • Make eye contact with your child.
  • Discuss whatever your child is interested in.
  • Use gestures, facial expression and body language when talking
  • Take turns when you communicate- encouraging your child to respond.
  • Use as many words in a sentence as your child can or with one or two extra words.
  • Pause often and give your child a chance to process the information.
  • Model the correct words for your child. If a child says something wrong, never say that it is wrong, rather repeat the word in the correct way. For example, if your child says “tock” for “sock”, you must repeat the right word.
  • Stick to the same words. For example, if the family uses the word “coat”, use it until your child understands and/or can say the word, then introduce the word “jacket”.
  • Label all items. For example, during bath time, label the bath items around such as soap, tap, towel and water.
  • Encourage your child’s independence.

READ ALSO: This Video of a Health Care Worker Caught Physically Abusing a Special Needs Child Will Break Your Heart

Most importantly, learning should be fun not pressured, your child will come around.

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