My Child Has A Diagnosis
Cerebral palsy is not a single condition; it is a group of disorders of the development of the body’s motor system, causing movement, muscle and posture problems. Cerebral palsy is often accompanied by other associated challenges including communication struggles and problems with cognition, perception and behaviour.
It is caused by damage or faulty development in a certain part of the brain and this usually happens in the womb or - in some cases - during or shortly after birth.
There are four main types of cerebral palsy:
Spastic cerebral palsy is the most common form of the disorder. The muscles are stiffer than normal and the degree of effect in an arm or leg can vary from case to case
Athetoid cerebral palsy causes involuntary, slow, writhing movements of the hands and sudden muscle spasms which often affect the tongue or face muscles
Ataxic cerebral palsy affects balance and fine motor skills. Children may struggle with handwriting and other fine motor skills such as tying shoelaces
Mixed cerebral palsy is a combination of two or even all three of the above categories.
Approximately half of children diagnosed with cerebral palsy also have some degree of learning difficulty, due to either problems with muscle control, motor-skills and co-ordination or through other neurological conditions. The frustration this can cause, can lead to the development into other psychological conditions including anxiety, a sense of isolation and possibly even depression.
Parents of a child with this ‘non progressive disorder’ may feel there is little they can do to help their child progress – and our first task is often to reassure them that there is hope for their child.
Physiotherapy is the primary treatment for the physiological effects of cerebral palsy. There are also a range of other treatments and options available and we will discuss these with you at the outset, providing professional guidance to help you decide the best way forward for your child.
One of the most effective treatments available for a child with cerebral palsy is Verbal Behaviour and this can be hugely successful, particularly when implemented as part of a broader programme of treatment.
Based on the techniques of Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA), Verbal Behaviour teaches language and communication skills and can benefit your child in a number of ways, including:
The development of more meaningful relationships with children and adults.
An ability to express needs, wants and desires with others.
Improved cognitive functions.
Positive and socially acceptable behaviour patterns.
These language, communication and social skills are taught using Natural Environment Teaching (NET) and this approach encourages a willingness to learn, even with children who are seemingly unmotivated learners.
Over the years we have worked with our partners at NETwork Interventions to link up hundreds of parents and families across the world through our NETwork programme.
One way of doing this is our sibling network scheme for the brothers and sisters of children with learning difficulties, where family members can share their experiences.
We also link up parents who are caring for a child with disorders such as cerebral palsy. Knowing that there is a support network of others who are going through the same experiences can make all the difference.
Many individuals with cerebral palsy go on to live independently. NETwork Interventions focuses on ensuring that the skills the child learns, are taught to independence and will stay with them for life. This increases their ability to live, learn and thrive in the community.