Cerebral palsy is a complex condition that is caused by injury to the brain of a young child.
The primary effect of cerebral palsy is the brain’s inability to communicate with muscles. The specific way cerebral palsy manifests depends on the nature of the original trauma.
The different types of cerebral palsy vary in the severity of their symptoms. Some people are able to walk unassisted or with minimal assistance, while others are completely incapable of walking. Some can speak. Some cannot.
Types of Cerebral Palsy
- Spastic Cerebral Palsy – Muscles are stiff, movements are stiff and jerky
- Athetoid Cerebral Palsy – Unable to control muscle movement
- Ataxic Cerebral Palsy – Decreased muscle coordination; clumsiness, wide gait
- Hemiplegic Cerebral Palsy – Paralysis that affects one side of the brain and the opposite side of the body; however, hemiplegia does not necessarily indicate a learning disability
The Challenges of Cerebral Palsy
Learning disabilities often go hand-in-hand with cerebral palsy. These are often dyslexia (trouble learning and interpreting letters, words, and symbols) and dyscalculia (difficulty with mathematics).
Additionally, those with cerebral palsy often have trouble communicating ideas and emotions, or interpreting and deciphering the speech and expressions of others. In other words, they may lack empathy or struggle to express their own feelings.
Cerebral palsy can make walking and all mobility difficult. It may require a leg or a full-body brace, a power wheelchair, or constant help from an aide.
Swallowing and chewing can also be difficult, so that even eating and drinking become laborious and require assistance.
Supporting a Loved One with Cerebral Palsy
With the right network of support and care a person with cerebral palsy can make progress; however, the care must be given in the correct way. That is, in a way that allows the individual to cultivate independence, build confidence, and feel empowered by their own willingness, their own abilities to want more from themselves, and their decisions to grow, to change and to have an open-mind.
To take care of individuals with CP one needs to have compassion and understanding. It is extremely important to design individualized treatment programs that can be beneficial for the person. Too much help and a person will not be able to make their own choices, or control their own destiny. On the other hand, not enough help can make a difficult situation even more difficult. So, one’s approach has to be thoughtful, holistic and balanced. Every type of treatment needs thoughtful consideration and awareness because we are all unique, and we all need personalized care sometime or another.
Dealing with changing realities as people with disabilities grow up can be tricky, especially for family members who hate to think that they’re not helping their loved one as much as they could. External help and mentoring can be invaluable. One needs to be objective, and feel things out for oneself. No one should force or manipulate any given situation. Focus on short-term goals as well as long-term goals. Make it fun and palatable for everyone. Make sure everyone involved is on the same page. To truly adapt specific methods and get the best benefits of all persons with cerebral palsy we need to try creative approaches. The effort involved is certainly worth it.
Karen Lynn-Chlup Shares About Growing Up With Cerebral Palsy
I grew up with cerebral palsy and dyslexia. I’ve jumped all the hurdles and withstood all the tribulations. I faced the discrimination and the social stigma, but I refused to be defined by experts that wouldn’t and couldn’t be compassionate and caring, that would not help me achieve my ambitions and intentions. With my own adherence, steadfastness, resolve, tenacity and determination I overcame and triumphed! Thanks to the love and support of all those around me, I created a rich, fulfilling, meaningful, satisfying, and successful life.
Now, my passion is to help others with disabilities achieve the same, while helping to educate their supporters and caregivers on ways to expand their minds so they, too, can make greater positive changes in the lives of those they care for.
Even after decades of providing support counseling to caregivers, families, and adults with disabilities, I am in awe every time I hear or see someone achieve something that they (and everyone around them) thought was impossible for them!
If you or someone you love has a disability, and you need help, please give me a call! As an experienced disability support specialist and special needs advocate, I can help. I’ve dealt with everything you could possibly imagine in the realm of disabilities. I know how to adapt proven and effective methods to each person’s particular needs and disabilities to ensure that they get the best possible care, respect and results.