What is Cerebral Palsy?
According to the Cerebral Palsy Alliance, (www.cerebralpalsy.org), Cerebral Palsy is an umbrella term that refers to a group of disorders affecting a person’s ability to move. It is due to damage to the developing brain either during pregnancy or shortly after birth.
Cerebral palsy affects people in different ways and can affect body movement, muscle control, muscle coordination, muscle tone, reflex, posture and balance. Although cerebral palsy is a permanent life-long condition, some of these signs of cerebral palsy can improve or worsen over time.
Individuals who have cerebral palsy may also have visual, learning, hearing, speech and intellectual impairments.
How does Cerebral Palsy effect my child's speech and language skills?
Cerebral Palsy (CP) may affect the language centers of the brain that control speech. Children with CP can be taught strategies that help improve their speech and language skills. In mild cases of CP, a child may have difficulty using the correct words, but in more severe cases, a child’s ability to communicate might be more seriously impacted.
A Speech-Language Pathologist is able to help a child speak clearly, communicate effectively, and control the muscles involved in speaking, eating, drinking, and swallowing. They are able to support and help facilitate the growth of a child’s vocabulary, listening skills, interpretation, or capacity to communicate through non-verbal means.
How will speech and language therapy help my child?
The benefit of speech therapy is that the child will learn adaptive and compensatory strategies to communicate. Children with CP often face other developmental delays, but many have talents and abilities they cannot properly express because of speech and communication challenges.
The benefits of speech and language therapy are numerous, and include:
- Supports learning and education
- Improves literacy
- Increases confidence and independence
- Improves socialization
- Eliminates self-consciousness
- Reduces shyness
Speech therapy is beneficial because a plan of treatment is individualized, allowing a child and therapist to work extensively on very specific issues that, once addressed, can progress quickly.