Parenting with cerebral palsy(CP- Click Here to read on what CP is) is very special and
different from other parents. Being a parent who fights for equality and inclusion, I must admit that parenting children with CP is very different and it needs multi disciplinary methods. The more we accept this, the more we can help our child better.
First thing we must not compare our child with others. Everybody is unique.
Secondly, we must identify their needs in multiple aspects. Cerebral Palsy is a brain damage, it might mainly affect the movements and control and balance. But there are other things to be considered are Vision, speech, Attention and focus, working memory , executive functioning challenges etc. Parenting can be challenging considering all these, but we can overcome these challenges by having a multi disciplinary plan in helping the children. 1. Arts and Crafts:
Engaging children in Arts and Crafts not only make them creative while having fun, but it also helps them to build fine motor skills. Fine motor skills helps children to learn life skills like writing, typing , buttoning and shoe lacing , eating etc. To develop their Interest in crafts, maintain consistency in practicing craft activities and cutting and sticking activity to develop scissoring skills. Most importantly don't forget to have lots of fun!! 2. Academics:
Children with Cerebral Palsy are generally cognitively skilled. They need to have special interventions and strategies to help them grow academically. For example, they may not be able to focus like other children in a classroom setting. This doesn't mean that they can't learn but they need frequent breaks to help them focus. 3. Reading & Writing:
To help start with reading start with picture books. Ask them to observe the pictures and ask their findings. Ask their imagination. Once they develop interest in books we can actually focus on identifying the sight words and work on phonics to improve their reading skills. When it comes to reading the challenging part for CP children is comprehension. Which
means reading and understanding what they read is also important. An average child understands a simple sentence if they read once. But children with CP need to read more than twice to understand the meaning. Yes!! It's hard-work. They have to work extra hard to achieve what other children might achieve easily and that's okay!
To develop interest with the writing start with various sensory play ideas like play in sand, flour, ask them to write on the flour. Their fingers need to get strength before they hold a pencil. Playing with the play dough, playing with rice and pasta, squeezing therapy putty helps them to develop the strength in their fingers. 4. Physical Activity:
Depends upon their level of ability, physical activity needs to be arranged at home. If they can't walk, do some physical activity while sitting or start with sit-to-stands. Or while lying down on the mat doing some stretches must be helpful with the blood circulation. Consider Occupational therapist guidelines for the seating position and other advice while working on the activities. 5. Self Confidence/ Self Esteem:
Children with CP need constant help which means they have to depend on others which
affects their self confidence badly. To avoid or to help reduce the dependency, ask them to help with small chores that they can help with. I would ask Pranav to help me in the kitchen. He loves chopping vegetables. We use the child safe knife to chop vegetables. He enjoyed the activity very much. And he feels so proud that he could help me. I also thank him. when I thank him he feels so confident and worthy and not just depending on others but also helping others.
Children with Cerebral Palsy have a difficulty in regulating their emotions. It could be sensory difficulties like unable to process the loud noise or noise around, sensitivity to the smell, difficulty with vision which leads changes in their behaviour. But we can help them regulating their emotions by practicing mindfulness everyday. Start with few seconds of silence with quiet music in the background and teach them to take deep breaths if they feel anxious.
7. Last but no the least, Be Realistic:
How to be realistic? My son asks me if he'll ever be able to walk? I am always been very realistic, although it breaks my heart, I tell him that "we are trying our best for what we can do". Have hope but not to have a false expectations.
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