Cerebral palsy is a group of disorders, occurring commonly in children right after birth. This congenital disability affects the brain and makes the muscles weak. It’s a widespread condition and currently impacts more than 750,000 children, and every 1 out of 1000 children has cerebral palsy symptoms in the US alone. The disease might make the child physically or intellectually impaired, damaging the quality of their life. Such children are often dependent on their parents or guardian for assistance in performing the simplest tasks, such as eating meals, washing up, changing clothes, etc. Special caretakers are also available to help children with cerebral palsy live as normally as possible. The symptoms of cerebral palsy appear at an early age. The parents can often recognize that the baby cannot crawl, clap, or talk. Following are some ways parents can take care of their child with cerebral palsy:
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1. Seek Professional Help
Living with a child with cerebral palsy can be overwhelming and confusing. So there’s no shame in asking for help and seeking professional guidance whenever necessary. Several psychotherapists and organizations offer training for parents who live with a child with cerebral palsy. They can teach you ways to help your child live an independent life and improve communication. These therapists also tell you how to deal with challenging situations such as sickness, anxiety, or depression. Additionally, you can gain access to expert advice through the cerebral palsy guide on making life easier for you and your little one.
2. Pay Attention to Their Diet
Since kids with cerebral palsy cannot control their eating habits, the responsibility falls on you as a parent. It’s essential to pay attention to their meals and ensure they get meals that offer proper nutrition. Children with cerebral palsy must have dairy, meat, vegetables, and fruits to get all the crucial vitamins and minerals needed for growth. Calcium, magnesium, omega 3, vitamin B12 and C, and zinc are some of the best dietary nutrients needed by kids with cerebral palsy. Nutrition experts also recommend a ketogenic diet for children with cerebral palsy as it combines both low and high-fat foods.
3. Join a Support Group
Despite loving your kid to the moon and back, it’s normal to feel lonely, irritated, frustrated, concerned, and burdened as a parent of a child with a disability. The challenges can be demanding and drain you of physical and mental energy. Being a parent to a child with disabilities can be rough on your lifestyle. You might ignore your diet and get insufficient sleep at night. You might have difficulty adjusting to the mood swings. There may be issues with socializing as you’d spend all your time taking care of your child. However, you can join a support group with parents of differently-abled children for support. It can offer you a release for socializing and sharing your problems with people who understand. Such support groups guide how to manage your life without burning yourself out. They can be trustworthy friends who can help you in tough times.
4. Try Music Therapy
Music therapy is known to benefit children with cerebral palsy as well. Music therapy involves using beats, songs and sounds to promote physical and mental wellbeing. Research shows that cerebral palsy children have better heart health, reduced risk of blood pressure, and standard heart rate after listening to music. Additionally, it helps improve their gait. After listening to the rhythms or beats, some children synchronize their walk with the sounds. Music therapy also increases focus and helps CP children pay more attention. It is an emotional and creative outlet as well. Music therapy might help enhance communication when finding the right words is tricky for the child.
5. Help develop Their Social Skills
Children with cerebral palsy struggle with communication, engagements, and interactions. They have problems forming relationships and friendships from an early age. Not being able to communicate properly can make them more moody and frustrated. As a parent, it can be alarming and stressful. However, social therapy is a beneficial program for kids with cerebral palsy. It helps deal with the barriers that cause negative emotional and physical behaviors and conversations issues. They have therapeutic techniques that hone the child’s social skills and teach tricks to be more expressive about their feelings. Social therapy is one of the best ways to help children with cerebral palsy be more confident in life.
6. Mobility Aids
Independence can be an important motivator for cerebral palsy children to be happier and more positive in life. Parents can ensure their child has proper transportation and communication equipment available. Some children with extreme cerebral palsy cases may have difficulty moving around and require assistance. As a parent, you can get them a wheelchair, crutches, or walking stand that enables them to be mobile independently. These products help improve posture and reduce body pain.
7. Communication Assistance
Cerebral palsy can restrict some children from talking properly, and as a result, they might feel unheard because the throat muscles, tongue, or voice box don’t work together. In addition, the mouth often experiences severe muscle spasms. Cerebral palsy can make it tricky for your child to form words or sentences as well. Hence, parents can purchase devices for differently-abled children to promote better communication. It can help your child easily express their wishes, feelings, or needs. Plus, these communication aids help form relationships and friendships with people around them. As a result, it encourages engagements with the world.
Taking care of a child with cerebral palsy is no easy feat. It requires immense energy, sacrifice, patience, and understanding. The financial burden can be overwhelming, and it may be challenging to pay the medical bills. However, you can always find funding sources such as financial plans that allow you to carry on with the medications and therapies without compromising the quality of service at an affordable rate. In addition, seeking guidance from professionals, online communities, and support groups of fellow special children’s parents can benefit your mental health. It reduces the feeling of loneliness, and you find comfort knowing there are others like you. As a parent, you want to improve your child’s skills and help them become as independent as they can be. They should also have ways to communicate with you and others around them, so they can always seek help when needed.