In honor of World CP Day, we want to take a moment to highlight the amazing children, therapists, and families that work together to overcome challenges and inspire those around them.
Cerebral Palsy is usually caused by complications during birth, but some parents don’t always receive the diagnosis until months or years later. A large concern when you find out your child will have special needs is whether they will lead a fulfilling life. While this diagnosis comes with its share of difficulties, with the right support team, children diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy can accomplish great things!
Cerebral Palsy’s presentation is as unique as each person that is diagnosed, but overall, these kiddo’s differences in muscle tone requires them to use more energy to perform tasks and they fatigue quickly. This just means they need a little more patience and support to reach their goals. Because everyone presents differently, everyone will need a specialized plan from their therapist team. With their therapy team, doctors, and family, here are a few things these kiddos work on so that they can actively participate in the world around them:
Cerebral Palsy comes in many types and severity levels, so each person you meet with Cerebral Palsy will be different. Generally, the biggest impact is their mobility. This might slow them down, but it won’t stop them from playing with friends and exploring the world around them.
While working with their Physical Therapist, a child with Cerebral Palsy will work to improve overall mobility. This can be anything from independent or assisted walking, floor mobility, rolling, and transitioning positions. Kids with Cerebral Palsy might find their own way to do a movement by compensating with other muscles or moving uniquely to accomplish the same task as other kids. Either way, these kiddos are constantly on the move and love to explore their environment!
Most kids with Cerebral Palsy are verbal but have dysarthria, which is slow, breathy, effortful sounding speech. Muscle tone and fatigue can greatly affect the muscles used for speaking, so working on breath support, breath control, and articulation is vital to help achieve effective communication. Speech Therapists can help them develop these skills or master a communication device so that they can fully participate in conversations with their friends and family.
Because children with Cerebral Palsy spend so much time in therapy and doctor’s offices, families do their best to make home life as normal and stress-free as possible for them. There are adaptative devices available that can assist in self-care activities, eating, and getting dressed that some children may be able to take advantage of. Occupational and Speech Therapists are great at exploring options that work best for each child during therapy so that the family can be educated on what will best help their little one and they can spend more quality time together at home.
Like all kids, children with CP want to be as independent as possible, working hard to overcome physical and emotional challenges. Every aspect of their life is impacted by their diagnosis, but that isn’t what defines them.
Kids with Cerebral Palsy are brave, strong-willed, and silly. They love telling jokes, playing games, and listening to music. They have a lot of love and support behind them to succeed and achieve their goals.
Meet some of Beelieve’s amazing CP Warriors:
Ammu and her mom had a perfectly normal pregnancy and birth experience. It wasn’t until a year later that Ammu wasn’t reaching certain milestones and received the diagnosis of Cerebral Palsy. Ammu has been receiving multiple therapies since she was 13 months old and couldn’t effectively use her communication device until she was 5 years old. Mom’s biggest challenge has been acceptance; how can you accept that your daughter has limitations when the sky should be the limit? This pushed mom to pursue multiple treatment strategies, including Botox, muscle relaxers, deep tissue massage, and spinal surgery. Ammu’s biggest successes came from her spinal cord surgery, which decreased her spasticity by 60% along with intensive therapy at Beelieve, which gave mom “a whole new child.” After intensive therapy, Ammu gained more strength and independence in daily activities like getting dressed and eating, more heavily independent in walking, and having full conversations. Ammu LOVES talking with her friends and reading stories. Her favorite thing to do is eat snacks.. and I think we can all relate to her on that!
“Finding a support system is very important. It can be very lonely; friends and family can only understand so much and me time is very important. Talking to a counselor or therapist can be invaluable, it’s a safe space.” - Ammu's mom
Dylan is a sweet friend that always bring smiles to everyone at Beelieve! His tone and spasticity make movements and transitions difficult, but he is so resilient and has consistently makes steady progress toward the goals his therapists have set for him. He completed his first intensive at NAPA Center in 2020 and completed another round at Beelieve in 2021- these intensive sessions are long and can be stressful, but Dylan kept smiling, reminding his mom and therapists how strong he is. Mom has had to overcome her own challenges, as well. Like most moms, she’s always looking for the next best thing for Dylan and sometimes forgets to live in the moment. His positive and determined attitude helps to inspire everyone around him and keeps us grounded.
"They [kids with CP] are the most resilient kids ever. Dylan does everything with a smile on his face- we ask a lot of them and they overcome a lot.” - Dylan's mom
Clydie was born prematurely at 23 weeks old and had a hemorrhagic stroke leading to Cerebral Palsy. When mom found out, she was devastated and scared.
Mom couldn’t hide her worries as she attended her weekly pottery class. The woman she had been sitting next to all semester provided comfort and asked if she could help. Mom confided in her friend, laying out all her concerns. Her classmate simply laughed and said, “I have Cerebral Palsy.” All semester together, and Clydie’s mom had no idea. Her friend assured her that everything would be okay and that Clydie would be able to accomplish amazing things and encouraged her to not give up on therapy, especially on the tough days. Hearing and seeing this helped mom to understand that physical limitations can be overcome and wouldn’t define or restrict her new baby girl.
Clydie is fiercely independent and gets easily frustrated by limitations and time restraints. Mom has done an amazing job allowing for extra time getting ready in the morning, getting in and out of their car, or just walking from place to place. That has been the biggest challenge for Clydie’s family, judging how much extra time she needed to be independent and accomplish her tasks and people not understanding her struggles. Clydie is at a GMS level 1 and can accomplish many things on her own, but due to her high tone and quick fatigue, she needs extra time to coordinate her body and manage her breathing. She has amazing friends that understand her and constantly offer assistance and support to make sure she is never left out of any activities.
“I wish people would slow down and realize people are different- don’t force social expectations on others. It’s great to look past a disability, but you should still recognize different needs.” - Clydie's mom