Awareness of Students with Diverse Learning Needs,
What the Teacher Needs to Know, Volume 1

line

Cerebral Palsy is a disabling condition. "Cerebral" refers to the brain and "Palsy" refers to a lack of muscle control. The condition is neither hereditary nor contagious.

Many children
with cerebral palsy
have normal
learning skills and
intellectual development;
they are able to care
for themselves and to
walk unaided.

Cerebral Palsy results from damage to the brain, usually caused by a lack of oxygen. The damage interferes with messages sent from the brain to the body or from the body to the brain and may cause involuntary movement and/or speech, hearing or sight disorders. The condition is not progressive, nor is it medically curable, but a positive attitude and acceptance of the condition by others will enhance the quality of life for the child with cerebral palsy.

The extent of cerebral palsy can vary from mild speech impairment or no obvious signs, to no speech at all and a severe lack of muscle coordination.

Many children with cerebral palsy have normal learning skills and intellectual development; they are able to care for themselves and to walk unaided. Others require very specialized treatment including multi-disciplinary care from physicians, physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech pathologists and teachers with special training in learning disabilities.

Three Main Types of Cerebral Palsy

  • Spastic: stiff and difficult movement, as muscles are contracted all the time and limbs feel stiff.
  • Athetoid: involuntary and uncontrolled movement, as messages from the brain to the muscles are not coordinated. These movements occur all the time and, in particular, may interfere with speech.
  • Ataxic: disturbed sense of balance and depth perception, resulting in awkward and unsteady movements of the hands and feet.

There may be a mixture of these types in any one individual who has diagnosed cerebral palsy. In addition, the lower limbs or one side of the body may be affected more than the other. The severity of the disability caused by cerebral palsy will determine expectations and the lifestyle of the student.

line

Previous | To Table of Contents | Next