Dealing with children with “special needs” is a multidisciplinary approach. It requires efficient teamwork and coordination of the patient, the parents, and many qualified doctors to handle the situation successfully and manage the outcomes. Children affected by cerebral palsy are no exception. According to CDC, at least 4 out of 1000 children are affected by cerebral palsy.
What is cerebral palsy (CP)?
Cerebral palsy (CP) belongs to a group of disorders that affects muscle movement and coordination. In some cases, it may also lead to deranged vision, hearing, sensations, etc. In addition, other body functions are also disturbed, e.g., speech, breathing, bowel control, eating, etc. The cause of cerebral palsy is damage to the brain during fetal development or birth or an injury during the first 3-5 years of a child’s growth. Other conditions associated with incidents of CP include low birth weight, infant jaundice, and maternal infections such as German measles.
What are the signs and symptoms?
The condition is not noticeable initially. Still, it becomes apparent over time, so a definite diagnosis is impossible until few months of the birth. Doctors monitor babies that are born with possible risk factors for cerebral palsy to rule out the disease. The signs and symptoms include:
- Developmental delay
- Difficulty in crawling, sitting up, or walking
- Uncoordinated movements
- Persistent infant reflexes
How is CP diagnosed?
CP is diagnosed by taking a detailed medical history, physical examination, and a thorough neurological examination to evaluate the signs and symptoms. Additional tests are required to support the diagnosis, such as EEG, MRI, CT scan, cranial ultrasound, basic blood reports.
How is cerebral palsy treated?
The treatment of cerebral palsy is merely palliative. The goal is to manage existing limitations and prevent further complications. Therapy begins right after diagnosis. Several surgeries are performed, proper diet is advised, and supportive treatment is given to patients for the rest of their life.
Challenges and triumphs
When a child is diagnosed with such disabling condition, life becomes challenging for both the patient and the parents. You may be seeing several specialists and therapists. Still, it is better to read more about the condition, especially if you feel the doctor/hospital is accountable for medical malpractice. Children suffering from CP need extra care and a lot of attention at home and school. Some parents may even mourn their kid’s disabilities. But the care provider must convince them about how these challenges can make triumph sweeter and that sometimes weakness can become the greatest strength.
Coping with such a condition requires a set of strategies that can help maintain the quality of life. Listed below are a few aspects that parents and care providers must address while raising a child with CP:
Children with cerebral palsy are no different; they would always want to fit in with their peers and be accepted as they are. But their medical condition makes them emotionally unstable. It gets complicated for such children to accept the fact that they have difficulty walking. At the same time, their friends can run a mile. Or that they are unable to answer questions in class as fast as their friends can. Such children do feel left out as they are constantly being bullied at school. In such a situation, it gets difficult not just for the child but also for the parents to accept it. As a parent, if you feel stressed out, try connecting with parents who have kids with similar conditions. This would help you relieve your stress and frustration and assist you in how to help your child. You can use the internet to connect with groups of people in similar situations as yourself.
Developmental disability gives rise to the difficulty in educating your child. Such children struggle with their academic progress despite their intellectual abilities. They require the diligent efforts of their parents and teachers to give them all the help they need. As a parent, you have to accept that your child has its own pace to learn, so forcing them won’t be fruitful. The more you force and fret about it, the more likely you will increase your stress levels. As a result, you might end up taking out your anger on your child. Therefore, opt for specialized cognitive therapy to better manage the learning process.
Cerebral palsy patients are primarily seen in a wheelchair or wearing leg braces to help them with movement. Going out of their safe place and coming back home without any trouble is a challenge for them. Using therapist-recommended devices and strategies is crucial for maximizing their freedom. For example, parents can customize homes by putting up rails and ramps so that their children can move freely with minimal assistance. Cars can also be adapted to be accessible to disabled individuals.
Social interaction is an essential component of the growth of children. Kids with cerebral palsy require strategies that are tailored according to their unique social needs. As a parent, you should be more flexible and patient. Try being more interactive and listen to them. Try being your child’s at-home therapist. Join support groups and introduce your kid to other similar children so that they don’t feel alone.
Every child with special needs is unique, but some common facts link parents together. These shared concerns include proper care, acceptance in the family, and education. Parents of children with CP are comparatively more flexible than other parents; they tend to adapt to new routines and readily face challenges. Therefore, it is essential to prioritize your child’s comfort and seek out help. Also, it helps to realize that you are not alone in this.