10 Myths and Misunderstandings about Cerebral Palsy

My Child’s Future is Limited.

A child born with cerebral palsy or other disabilities has never had a more promising future. With early intervention services available from birth, and public school education in the “least restrictive environment” made mandatory, children with disabilities have the best shot ever for a quality education and greater achievement in life. But all services are not provided equally throughout the country. Parents will be the chief advocates for their child.

Caring for my Child with Disabilities Will Place Enormous Stress on my Family.

Caring for a child with disabilities does place substantial stress on a family, challenging family members in every aspect of their lives. However, more and more resources exist to help reduce this stress. Most states now offer family support programs with a range of services, including respite, counseling, parent training, cash subsidy programs, and recreational and after-school activities. Government-funded respite services are available in most communities, ranging from in-home assistance to overnight care. Also, local non-profit organizations such as United Cerebral Palsy affiliates provide parent and sibling support groups, resources centers and learning libraries, information, referral aid, and assistive technology services. These are often in addition to concrete services which include programs for early intervention, preschool, and school-age special education, adult recreation, and residential care, as well as health care, employment assistance, and more.

My Child Will Never be Able to Walk.

When a child is very young, it is generally too soon to make a judgment about his or her long-term physical abilities. There are many complex issues that will come into play from a healthcare and rehabilitation perspective. A child’s self-motivation for physical independence also plays a key role. A parent can get connected by networking with other parents, as well as by asking their pediatrician to recommend an agency, hospital, or clinic that can provide the orthopedic evaluations comprehensive medical care and physical therapy.

My Child Will Never be Able to Communicate.

All children communicate in one from or another. Many children benefit from ongoing speech therapy. For a child who has limited speech or difficult-to-understand speech, there are an increasingly wide array or augmentative/alternative speech systems available. Young children learn with simple communication boards, basic “yes/no” switches and sign language. As children grow older and gain the ability to operate more complex communication systems, they typically graduate to more sophisticated and high-tech electronic devices. From the parent’s perspective, it is important to find an educational program or in-house service that is savvy about speech therapy and augmentative communication systems and introduces these services at the earliest point possible. Your local school district or county health department can direct you to speech and augmentative communication services in your community.

My Child Will Never Have Friends who are Non-Disabled.

Throughout their lives, children with disabilities have constant, natural opportunities to interact with youngsters who are non-disabled, such as playgroups and family gatherings. Many preschool settings are now integrated and children who have disabilities learn side-by-side with their typically developing peers. When they graduate from preschool, they may go on to inclusionary public school settings.

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