Cerebral Palsy

Cerebral palsy ranges in severity from very mild to severe. Individuals with cerebral palsy often have co-existing learning disabilities that impact acquisition of reading, writing, and math.

“Cerebral palsy is a heterogeneous group of non progressive motor disorders caused by chronic brain injuries that originate in the prenatal period, perinatal period, or first few years of life; the four major subtypes are spastic, athetoid, ataxic, and mixed cerebral palsy, with spastic forms being the most common; the motor disorder may range from difficulties with fine motor control to severe spasticity in all limbs; spastic diplegia (Little disease) is the most common subtype, and is characterized by spasticity that is more prominent in the legs than in the arms.” See the following for more information: http://www.icd9data.com

Children with cerebral palsy benefit from a variety of services from specialists to improve their functional skills:

  • Speech and language therapy
  • Occupational Therapy
  • Physical Therapy
  • Medical intervention
  • Family support services
  • Early education
  • Assistive technology

The following strategies are important in working with children with cerebral palsy:

  • Collaborate with the child’s team of specialist to find ways for the child to participate in all age appropriate activities to her fullest potential.
  • Use direct eye contact and alternative communication devices.
  • Provide the child with extra time and help to complete a task.
  • Break the task into small chunks and adapt the task requirements as necessary.
  • Get to know the child and learn about her interests and what she experiences daily.

The United Cerebral Palsy Foundation reports that 3/4 of a million people are affected by cerebral palsy in the United States. The United Cerebral Palsy Foundation has a wealth of information regarding resources and is invaluable should a child be diagnosed with cerebral palsy or should a parent suspect that their child may have cerebral palsy. Please see the following for more information: http://www.ucp.org/resources/one-stop-resource-guide


Turnbull, A., Turnbull, R. &Wehmeyer, M. (2007). Exceptional lives: Special Education in today’s schools. Upper Saddle River, N. J: Pearson Education.

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