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Four ways you can help your young child with cerebral palsy

Cerebral palsy, a disorder that affects movement and muscle tone, is the most common motor disability in children, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). It is caused by abnormal brain development or damage to a developing brain. Sometimes there is no identifiable reason for the abnormal development or damage. However, some instances are linked to genetic mutations, maternal infections, fetal stroke, infant infections, traumatic head injuries or lack of oxygen.

Although there is no cure for cerebral palsy, those who have the condition have treatment options that can help improve their lives. However, parents who suspect a child may have cerebral palsy are sometimes not sure where to begin or what they might be able to do to help their child reach his or her full potential.

Register your child for services and programs

If your child is 3 years old or younger, you may be able to have your child evaluated through the Early Steps program. Children between ages 3 and 5 can be evaluated though Child Find/Florida Diagnostic and Learning Resources System (FLDRS). Utilizing free screening opportunities like these can help determine your child’s eligibility for programs and services in the community, which are also often free of cost.

Some of these services can include access to medical supplies, various types of therapy, behavioral services and in-home supports. Access to services like these can help your child develop skills and receive help specific to his or her needs.

Encourage your child to move around

Encouraging your child to move around and participate in activities can be another way you can help your child. The more your child moves, the more likely your child will develop better control of his or her muscles.

You can encourage movement by:

  • Dancing with your child
  • Putting a favorite toy just out of reach
  • Letting your child eat with his or her fingers
  • Playing games with your child
  • Providing art supplies, such as paints or Playdough

Encourage your child to develop language skills

Exposing your child to language is one of the best ways to encourage him or her to develop speech and language skills. You can expose your child to language just by talking, reading aloud and playing sing along music. Make sure that you give your child plenty of time to get his or her words out if your child tries to respond. You can also seek the advice of a speech or language therapist, who may have suggestions to help target your child’s specific areas of difficulty.

Do not forget self-care

Although most of your concern may be focused on your child, be sure to take the time you need for self-care. If you become stressed, you may struggle to provide your child the support he or she needs. Make use of respite services that are offered through various agencies, and take up friends and family members on offers to babysit. Make time to eat healthy, exercise and do activities that make you happy.

Raising a child who has cerebral palsy presents many challenges, including financial challenges. If you think your child’s case may be the result of medical malpractice, it may be appropriate to consider litigation. The financial compensation that could result from the lawsuit can help with the costs associated with raising a child with cerebral palsy and the lawsuit could also help prevent a similar situation from happening to another child.

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