When a child is diagnosed with cerebral palsy, their parents go through a full gamut of emotions. Anger, pain and guilt fight for supremacy before fear kicks in as they worry what the future holds for their son or daughter. Whether the child has been diagnosed with spastic diplegia, or any of the other types of CP, the same questions immediately spring to mind. The fact is that although adjustments will have to be made you can still make life thoroughly enjoyable for your child. Being able to anticipate these changes and knowing how to deal with them when they do arise can greatly help you through this new, and unexpected, lifestyle.
The most obvious outward sign that somebody has cerebral palsy is their movements. The limitations of mobility will vastly differ between individuals and while therapy can help in some instances it will generally be a life-long problem. By planning ahead for these mobility issues you can decide what you are going to do to help your child to move as freely, comfortably and easily as possible. As the child grows, any mobility issues will become more obvious. Being one step ahead allows you and their healthcare team to get strategies in place to minimize the limitations which come from compromised mobility. This could mean the procurement of such aids as a wheelchair or walkers, support devices, and help with transportation, eating and hygiene. Your health insurance, charities, government funding and community organizations can all help you to pay for whatever devices your child will need to be mobile and as independent as possible.
Problems With Communication
Make no mistake, a child who struggles to communicate will have a huge impact on everyday life. These are one of the major worries of parents as they panic about not being able to understand their child and therefore letting them down. Things can be a lot easier, however, with a combination of patience and having a treatment plan in place. Not every child with CP will have communication issues but speech therapy is recommended for every child suffering from cerebral palsy. Some children cannot speak at all and for these kids there is assistive equipment available including communication boards which have letters, words and pictures all designed to help them communicate easier. Other options available include tablets and AAC; Augmentative and Alternative Communication.
Food and Snacks
Some children who have cerebral palsy, particularly those who suffer from significant mobility issues,will need help when it comes to eating snacks and meals. As well as preparing their meals you, and any other caregivers, may have to help them to eat and drink. Speech-language pathologists can help you master the best techniques to make assisting your child at mealtimes as easy and stress free as possible. Additionally, children with CP often need specially prepared foods that meet their own unique dietary needs. This often presents it’s own challenges as you could be making separate meals for your child and the rest of the family. However, as cerebral children tend to need a healthy diet with lots of fruit and vegetables, it could be the ideal time to get the whole family into a healthier lifestyle.