Cerebral Palsy (CP)

Cerebral Palsy (also known as CP) is a condition caused by injury to parts of the brain that controls the ability to use muscles.  Often the injury happens before birth, sometimes during delivery, or soon after being born.  The main sign that your child might have CP is a delay in reaching motor/ movement milestones.  There are many different types of CP, some types include an increase or decrease in muscle tension (hypertonia or hypotonia)while other types are characterized by muscle contractions (spasticity). Check out this CDC podcast to learn more about CP.

What do I need to think about for my child’s IEP?

Students with CP often are eligible for services under the category of Physical Impairment or the category of Speech and Language Impairment.  Please see our webpage for more info in IEPs.   Typically a child with CP may need different kinds of therapy (these are called related services):

  • Physical therapy (PT), which helps the child develop stronger muscles such as those in the legs and trunk. Through PT, the child works on skills such as walking, sitting, and keeping his or her balance.
  • Occupational therapy (OT), which helps the child develop fine motor skills such as dressing, feeding, writing, and other daily living tasks.
  • Speech-language pathology (S/L), which helps the child develop his or her communication skills. The child may work in particular on speaking, which may be difficult due to problems with muscle tone of the tongue and throat

Is there some technology that can help my child?

Assistive technology is a related service listed in IDEA.  Technology is a key to leveling the playing field for individuals with disabilities.  Check out the TechMatrix for suggestions for finding educational and assistive technology products for students with disabilities. Learn more on our Assistive Technology webpage.

If your child has difficulty speaking, you might consider an alternative/ augmentative communication device. Check out the CommunicationMatrix for ideas on AAC.

Where can I find support?

In Michigan, contact United Cerebral Palsy and the Cerebral Palsy Outreach Network.  UCP also publishes a One Stop Resource Guide.  There are also resources for kids and teens, including success stories.

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