Disabilities can be categorized into either physical or learning, an example of each of these is:-
Physical – Cerebral Palsy
Cerebral Palsy (referred to in this text as C.P) is a disability that affects muscle tone, motor skills and movement. There is also a reduction in the ability to co-ordinate their movements. C.P is normally caused before or during birth due to brain damage, although it can occur during the first 3- 5 years of a child’s life through trauma for example shaken baby syndrome. There is no cure or treatment for CP but with therapy, special equipment and in some cases surgery a child can live as near as a ‘normal life’. CP is not a degenerative disease so does not worsen with age or development, although development is affected. Along with the physical disabilities that are associated with CP the damage to the brain can also lead to problems with vision, hearing and speech. But it is important to remember that a child may have CP but have no associated problems with it.
There are varying degrees of CP whereas some children have mild impairments others may have profound disabilities. This is determined by the amount of brain damage and what part of the brain is damaged. For example for one child the damage may only affect the ability to walk whereas the next child may not be able to walk, talk, see or hear, with all body muscles affected. CP can affect 1 side or both sides of a child again this is dependent on the brain injury.
There is normally a general delay in children with CP reaching developmental milestones. Along with gross motor function problems a CP child tends to have difficulty in controlling their arms and hands. So fingers may involuntarily stretch out and then curl into a fist regularly. Their arms may fling out to each side similar to a baby’s startle reflex when they hear a loud noise. Because of the lack of control there will be some element of speech impairment due to the fact they may not have full control over their facial muscles and tongue. Some children are able to be taught some control of these which may help them to develop speech, but children with severe CP are typically never able to fully, coherently speak due to the lack of control over these muscles. However sounds and noises will occur as if they are ‘talking’ and it is important that these sounds are not over looked as this could have a negative impact on their emotional well-being. Due to been non-verbal CP children normally have some assisted technology giving them a way to communicate. These devises can be worked by either hand movements much like a computer or by eye movement or in some cases a touch pad can be placed at the side of the face on their wheelchair and they use the side of their face to access the devise. A devise is found that is suitable for each individual child.
Physically a child with CP has problems with muscle tone and strength. It is often that their muscles are too tight and rigid making them inflexible and difficult to move or control. Pain is often associated alongside this as it has been liked to been in constant state of having cramp. On the other hand some children exhibit muscle tone that is too weak and unable to support them so displaying floppy heads as their neck muscles cannot support their own head weight. As their core muscles around the abdomen may be weak they may never sit up unaided and need equipment for the duration of life.
Along with all the physical disabilities and speech problems a child with CP will encounter problems with their social development as well. If speech is non-existent or extremely hard to understand then social interaction with peers is often limited and in some cases non-existent. Creating social isolation and a