Help is at hand for families from healthcare providers on how best to take care of a child, and cope
Though some children are diagnosed from a young age with the condition, there remain a vast number of parents who wonder for years what could be causing their child to behave in a certain manner until, finally, one day their child is diagnosed with CP.
Depending on one’s perception and circumstances, this can come as a shock or as a relief.
Either way, any medical diagnosis can be overwhelming, distressing and sometimes can cause family ructions.
CerebralPalsyGuide.com is a good resource for all things CP-related and is written in part by a CP sufferer who has become quite successful in their own right.
Among other CP topics, they offer advice for parents whose child has recently been identified as having CP and how to help their child live a full and productive life.
Firstly, it is recommended that the entire family be educated about the condition.
By including the whole family, it will lessen the pressure on the parents as looking after CP children can be extremely difficult and stressful.
Explain to everyone what cerebral palsy is and how it affects children. Involve the family in ways that they can help – encouragement would be the better than forcing them to be a part of the child’s life so as to avoid any antagonistic behaviour.
Step two would be to seek out the best therapy available for the child.
This would include physical, occupational and / or speech therapy depending on the child’s needs.
There are places in East London, such as Canaan Care Centre which could either assist directly or point one in the right direction.
It is important that the therapy, where possible, is continued at home as it enables them to learn to be more active.
The third point is to encourage your child to ‘be the best version of themselves.’
This is a train of thought across various cerebral palsy platforms and it is good advice for anyone with a child, regardless of their capabilities or disabilities.
Remind yourself that your child has their own life to live – you can’t live it for them and they shouldn’t be limited by your imagination or your over-concern about them.
If you have other children, it is imperative that you do not treat your CP child differently from them or any other child.
An example of this would be helping around the house. They may not be able wash the dishes, but perhaps they could help with other tasks.
Include and don’t exclude them from family activities and help them to set goals.
All of these things will help them see themselves as valuable members of the family, and in time, as valuable members of society.
Finally, it is important to communicate – not only with the child, but with those you can trust, particularly one’s spouse.
If you need a break, ask someone to help out for a little bit. If you need advice about the condition or how to handle a CP-related issue, ask a healthcare provider.
However, as much as it is important to ask for help, it is also important to have an open channel of communication so that your spouse or other child/ren know that they are also important to you.
When I think back on Hayley’s journey (Logan’s mom tells her tale, GO! & Express May 20, 2021) with Logan as well as that of my friend and colleague Liezel Gouws (Living with Cerebral Palsy, GO! & Express May 13, 2021), these are practical guidelines as they are ones that these two exceptional ladies have implemented when required.
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