Cerebral palsy is a neurological disorder that occurs in children due to damage to those parts of the brain that control motor skills. It is a permanent damage, and cannot be completely cured. However, through special care and training, children affected by this condition can be helped to develop skills required for leading a normal life.
Cerebral palsy is a chronic medical condition which occurs as a result of damage to the brain during the developmental stages. This damage can occur when the child is in the womb, during childbirth, or in the first three years of life. Although it is commonly found all over the world, doctors have not found out the exact reason for its occurrence. Usually, children do not start showing signs of this condition, until they reach three years of age.
A child affected by this condition has poor muscle control, and is unable to coordinate muscle movements. There are mainly three types viz., spastic, athetoid, and ataxic cerebral palsy. Children who are diagnosed with the condition are not able to walk or talk normally. They are not able to do normal day-to-day activities like eating, or dressing on their own. They face problems even while learning to write. However, it is not a type of mental retardation, although some kids can be mentally challenged. Most of them, however, are of average or high intelligence. They are just like their peers, with respect to their thinking powers, except that they would need special attention from their parents, teachers, and therapists to learn certain important skills for optimum functioning.
There are many cases of children with cerebral palsy who grow up to lead a near normal life. Although not an easy feat, it is surely possible. However, they would have to take therapies for the same. Every child may need a different kind of therapy, according to the severity of the disorder. Teaching and training a child with this disorder is not a single person’s job. The major contributors in this case are the parents. It also includes the combined efforts of the physical therapist, speech therapist, doctors, special education teachers, and psychologists.
Physical therapists help the children in developing simple motor skills. Physical therapy helps them learn how to walk with their braces, and move around without any help. They may also be taught to kick a ball, and ride a bicycle. In the same way, speech therapists help in improving their communication skills. It helps in developing or improving speech, listening skills, etc. In addition to this, one may consider enrolling the child in a special school. It will surely benefit their development.
Teachers at special schools are trained to teach children with disabilities. They are expected to show great patience with the kids. In special schools, every child is given individual attention, and the curriculum is also planned so as to cater to their individual needs. All this helps to develop the child’s abilities with a view to foster his independent/near independent functioning at a later stage.
Some children with cerebral palsy are entitled to attend mainstream schools with other kids their age. In that case, a teacher need not change the whole curriculum, but needs to deal a little leniently with the disabled child. One should understand that the child is not like the other kids, and may take a little more time to understand or respond to what is happening in the class. However, they should not be treated very differently. These kids should not be judged only by their disability, but encouraged to think and participate in the activities of the class. It has been observed that children who attend regular schools since a very young age, show great improvement. It is also good for the other kids in the class, because this will develop the feeling of compassion towards individuals who are different from them.
One very important thing to remember is that, the disability of these children does not make them weak or incapable. Giving them training, and teaching them skills to be independent from an early age would surely prove beneficial.