Cerebral palsy is a complicated condition that is caused by trauma or injury to the brain of a young child.
The primary consequence of cerebral palsy is the brain’s inability to properly communicate with certain muscles in the body; the exact way cerebral palsy manifests depends on the nature of the original trauma.
The different types of cerebral palsy can all vary in the severity of their symptoms. Some people are able to walk unassisted (or with minimal assistance), while some people are completely incapable of any type of autonomous walking.
Types of Cerebral Palsy
- Spastic Cerebral Palsy – Muscles are stiff, movements are stiff and jerky
- Athetoid Cerebral Palsy – Unable to control movement
- Ataxic Cerebral Palsy – Decreased muscle coordination. Clumsiness, wide gait
- Left-side or Right-side Hemiplegic – Affects either the right or left side of the brain and the opposite side of the body (note: Hemiplegic conditions don’t necessarily indicate the presence of a learning disability)
The Challenges of Cerebral Palsy
Learning disabilities often go hand-in-hand with cerebral palsy. These are very often some form of dyslexia (trouble learning and interpreting letters, words, and symbols) or something closely related, such as difficulties with understanding mathematics (dyscalculia).
Additionally, those with cerebral palsy often have varying degrees of difficulty expressing ideas and emotions, or interpreting and deciphering the speech and expressions of others.
Cerebral palsy can make it difficult to walk and move around; often, those with cerebral palsy require the use of a leg brace (or, in certain cases, a full body brace) to move.
Swallowing and chewing can also become difficult, which can make performing some of the most basic tasks of life a significant hurdle.
Supporting a Loved One with Cerebral Palsy
With the right network of support and care a person with cerebral palsy can make an incredible amount of progress. However, the care must be given in the correct way. That is, in a way that allows the individual to cultivate independence, build their confidence, and feel empowered with their abilities and decisions.
Care can be a difficult thing. Too much help and a person with a disability can be rendered utterly dependent and incapable of functioning without it. The long-term goal is to allow an independent, high-functioning person to blossom, and so at times it is beneficial to withdraw a little help and allow them to find their own way or technique for overcoming a challenge.
This can be a tricky matter (and particularly difficult for family members and loved ones who hate to think that they’re not helping as much as they could). For this reason, external help and mentoring can be invaluable in focusing on the long-term goals and truly maximizing a person with a disability’s ability to adapt, develop and function in the world.
About Karen Lynn
I grew up with cerebral palsy. I’ve been through all the hurdles and tribulations. I faced the discrimination and the social stigma – and I came out on top! Thanks to the love and support of those around me, I’ve created a rich, fulfilling, and successful life.
Now, my passion is to help others with disabilities to achieve the same, while helping to educate their supporters and caregivers on ways to expand their perceptions and attitudes to make greater positive change in the lives of those they care for.
Even after decades of providing support counseling to caregivers, family and individuals with disabilities, I’m still giddy everytime I see someone achieve something that they (and everyone around them) thought was impossible!
If you (or someone you love) has a disability, give me a call! As an experienced disability support specialist and special needs advocate, I’ve dealt with everything you could possibly imagine in the realm of disabilities; I know how to adapt proven and effective therapy methods to each individual person’s particular habits and disabilities to ensure that they get the best possible results!