Cerebral Palsy & families

The biggest challenge for someone living with cerebral palsy in a family, is how that child can succeed alongside able-bodied family members.

A study carried out by the University of Alberta, and reported in Developmental Medicine and Child Neurology, 2001, compared adolescents with cerebral palsy and their families to those without disabilities. Some previous literature portrays families of persons with disabilities as experiencing more negative family relationships; however, the families in the study demonstrated similar scores in family function and life satisfaction.

The study’s authors concluded that while navigating adolescence can be a challenge for a family, the presence of a physical disability does not mean that the experience will be more or less demanding. As my case has shown, the rollercoaster effects of dealing with cerebral palsy can be emotionally difficult and may leave little time or patience for parents to deal with their other children. It depends on how the parents deal with their child’s disability.

Although my parents spent some time taking me to the hospital and physiotherapy appointments, my disability needs at home were never addressed. Emotionally, I struggled to cope and withdrew very early on. With the proper management of my condition within my family, the impact for me could have been managed.

And although I had yearly examinations to make sure my legs were growing properly; health care professionals didn’t get involved in my case. Instead I was left to get on with my life but couldn’t because my emotional needs were never met. No thought was given to my emotional health and how I was supposed to cope.

My neurologist has since explained to me that had I not been missed, I might have been made to wear a leg brace and might have been put into a special school for children with disabilities. Of course, that doesn’t make what happened right.

I believe that with any disability, time should also be set aside for other siblings so that their needs are also met. There has to be some form of integration in families. Times have changed since I was born. There is more support now. The physical and emotional needs of children are addressed individually and can be met by their families.

9 Aug, 2017

4 thoughts on “Cerebral Palsy & families

  1. It must be very challenging for any child to live with something like Cerebral Palsy, but at the same time it’s important for a child’s disability to be met.

    It’s any parent’s responsibility to make sure that if they have other children that those children also learn to interact with their sibling with the disability and the child with the disability with his or her siblings and for them to have their own needs met.

    Sadly, it looks as though this didn’t happen for you.

    1. Yes, thank you and I agree. Sadly, as you say it didn’t happen for me, but it’s important all families have the support to help their child with the disability, both emotionally and physically and around his or her siblings too. They tend to be overlooked.

      Without those things in place can make life even more challenging.

  2. With dignity, you’ve carried the weight of Cerebral Palsy with unbelievable awareness. The rest just fell in place with your guidance.

    1. Thanks Tim. Yes, when others don’t help you become aware, you’re often left with no choice.

      When I understood how to connect to my inner thoughts, those thoughts became my guiding light, never leaving my side.

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