Family members working together with
doctors can use home treatment to provide the best possible care for a child with
cerebral palsy (CP).
Education and support for parents and family members
Learn about the condition. It is common to have a fear of the unknown. Learn about the condition so you
are best able to help your child. Local or national cerebral palsy
organizations can help, especially in dealing with the impact of daily emotional
and lifestyle issues. Talk with your doctor or call your local hospital for
suggestions. For more information, see the Other Places to Get Help section of
Learn about your child's educational rights. Laws in the United States give children with special needs access to free public school services and some free treatments. These educational rights also include protection of the parents' rights to be
fully informed about or disagree with educational decisions concerning their
child. Contact your state and local education departments for specific
information about these accommodations. Also,
vocational training may benefit some teens and young
Work with teachers and school officials. Work
with your child's teachers, school administrators, special learning
consultants, and school boards to develop the best educational plan for your
child. A cooperative team approach helps your child realize his or her
Provide emotional support. The needs of a child
with CP change over time. As children grow and become more aware of their
physical limitations, they need to be able to talk about their feelings and how
they are treated. It is sometimes easier for them to talk with someone who is
not a family member. Ask your doctor about whether emotional
counseling would benefit your child. Also, include
your child when making decisions about his or her health care.
Take care of yourself. Get proper rest, eat well,
exercise, and learn
ways to cope with the challenges of raising a child with CP. You will be
better equipped to help your child when you have physical energy and emotional
Help each other. The entire family is affected
when one member has CP.
Helping family members cope with this situation is
important, especially for siblings. You can help prevent other children from
having unrealistic fears and concerns, feeling left out, or becoming
Helping with daily routines
Each person with CP
has unique strengths and areas of difficulty. But most people with CP need
ongoing help with:
Feeding and eating. Cerebral palsy can
affect jaw control and interfere with the ability to chew, suck, and swallow.
Special utensils, such as plates that stick to a surface; properly positioning
your child at meals; and serving soft or semi-solid foods, such as oatmeal, may
Using the toilet. Some people with
cerebral palsy have stiff hip joints or similar problems that make using a
toilet difficult. Others do not have dependable bladder control. Special
undergarments and training by an
occupational therapist are common ways to help treat
Bathing and grooming. People with cerebral palsy who do not have control of
their hands or arms usually are unable to groom themselves. Others can be
taught some level of self-grooming through regular practice.
Dressing. Provide clothing and shoes that are easy to put on and
take off, such as those that zip or button in the front (not the back) or that
have large buttons, ties, or Velcro fasteners.
Dental care. Cerebral palsy can affect the jaw muscles, make teeth improperly
positioned and prone to decay, and cause sensitivity in the mouth and tongue.
Also, many people with CP find it difficult to use a toothbrush. You can help
your child by providing special equipment, such as a mechanized teeth-cleaning
water spray or electric toothbrush; buying toothpaste for sensitive gums; and
making sure he or she has regular dental cleanings.
Drooling is common in people with CP, which can cause skin irritation around
the chin, mouth, and chest. You can help prevent skin irritations and protect
your child's skin by blotting rather than wiping drool, using absorbent cloths
to cover the chest, and applying lotions or corn starch to areas that are prone
Speaking. Some people with CP have
problems with the muscles in their jaws and mouth as well as hearing loss.
These problems, alone or in combination, can make it difficult to form words.
Try to speak slowly, look directly at your child, and use pictures or objects
as you talk. Also, read with your child a lot, and use picture books to help
your child express himself or herself.
Keeping active. Your child
needs to move his or her limbs to help keep muscles strong and joints flexible.
Have him or her move and play as much as possible. Involve other family members
too. Ask the doctor, physical therapist, or other parents for
Safety. People with CP are prone to falls and other
accidents, especially if they are affected by
seizures. You can take general safety measures at
home-such as having heavy, sturdy furniture or not polishing floors-to help
your child avoid accidents. Also, use common sense and care around sharp
objects. And never leave a person who has CP alone while he or she is bathing.