Cerebral Palsy: Activities for Kids with CP
Learning that your child has cerebral palsy can be an overwhelming experience. Because cerebral palsy (CP) can affect your child’s movement and posture, children with this developmental disability can benefit greatly from interactive special needs activities that can help improve their physical and intellectual development. In addition, kids with CP can also benefit from speech therapy, occupational therapy and speech/language therapy, as well as education geared towards their unique developmental needs.
Special Needs Activities for Children with CP
There are a variety of interactive activities from which children with cerebral palsy can benefit.
Such special needs activities are simple, such as crawling, and can improve your child’s physical development. Playing on a sturdy surface area, such as Velcro or non-slip mats, can help stabilize your child during play, as well as help him improve his posture and movement.
Other interactive special needs activities include throwing your baby gently into the air, as well as playing merry-go-round (i.e. standing face to face with child, with the child’s legs straddling your waist, gently twirl in small, steady circles) can also be beneficial to babies with cerebral palsy.
Roughhousing with your child is also important, as it helps to develop tactile and vestibular (reaction to movement) skills; incorporate activities into diapering, dressing and feeding. Look for ways for your child to feed himself, and encourage more active participation in other daily activities too.
While you will want to be careful in handling your child, don’t be afraid to encourage her to play and become more active. Watch her reactions to see what activities she feels comfortable with and at what level she is most at ease.
When your child is older, crawling around in the grass or pulling a wagon on a short walk are great outdoor exercises for kids with CP.
Ensuring children with CP get enough physical activity is important to reducing the risk of bone loss, improving their muscle strength and increasing their range of motion.
Remember to praise your child; focus on his or her strengths as opposed to weaknesses. This will help build your child’s self-esteem.
Cerebral Palsy Treatment
Cerebral palsy treatment is a crucial part of your child’s development.
There are three main areas of cerebral palsy treatment:
- speech/language therapy: works on communication skills, such as talking, sign language and communication aid. If your child is able to talk, the focus of CP speech therapy will be on improving speech clarity, as well as speaking in sentences and building vocabulary. If your child is unable to talk, the focus will be on learning to use communication aids, such as a computer, alphabet book or other such communication tool
- occupational therapy: focuses on the development of the use of the arms, hands and upper body. For children with CP, occupational therapy can help them dress and feed themselves, as well as perform other daily skills, such as brushing their teeth
- recreational therapy: focusing on physical activity, common recreational therapy includes dance, swimming, riding and even horticulture
Schooling for Your Special Needs Child
Deciding on the method of schooling for your special needs child can be a difficult decision for many mothers of children with CP.
Home schooling can offer certain advantages, such as learning that is focused to your child’s unique needs, and also provides you as a mom with more input in your child’s education and overall development.
However, sending your child to a public school provides a special environment in which the child has the opportunity to socialize with children her age. Talking to a teacher about your child’s special needs can improve the type of care they receive. Sending your child to a special needs educational facility is another option available to you.
Depending on the nature of your child’s physical and mental abilities, you will want to consider both options in order to determine which environment is better suited to your child’s needs.
In either case, remember to keep in mind the importance of developing a support system that can help you cope with the challenges of having a special needs child, as well provide a network in which you can share the joys of your child’s developmental milestones.
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