Myths about cerebral palsy

Considering cerebral palsy is one of the most common childhood congenital disorders, there are myths and false information out there regarding the condition.

There is also some ignorance around the condition. Some people have never heard of cerebral palsy, some people have heard of it, but don’t understand what it means or what it is. The most common misconceptions are:

Children with cerebral palsy will be confined to a wheelchair

There are children with cerebral palsy who are confined to a wheelchair, but there are also numerous other children with mild cerebral palsy who can run and walk without assistance. Not everyone with cerebral palsy will be confined to a wheel chair. Cerebral palsy can be mild, moderate or severe.

In the early stages it’s too soon to tell whether an infant will be able to walk when they’re older.  But not every child will end up in a wheelchair.

Children with cerebral palsy cannot speak

There may be some children with cerebral palsy who may not be able to verbally speak, but this does not apply to all children. Each cerebral palsy case must be assessed separately.

Cerebral Palsy is contagious

This is the biggest myth. Cerebral Palsy is not contagious. It’s something that happens in the womb, or at birth. You cannot catch cerebral palsy, by hugging or touching a child with the disorder.

Children with cerebral palsy are all hearing impaired

Having cerebral palsy can increase a child’s risk of having hearing problems, but it’s not the case that all children with cerebral palsy will have impaired hearing.

Some children with the disorder can have good hearing. The associated risk factors of developing other impairments depends on how bad or severe the child’s cerebral palsy is. Other children may have problems with communication yet can hear perfectly.

Not all communication difficulties around cerebral palsy are down to hearing impaired issues.

Cerebral Palsy can be cured

There is no cure for cerebral palsy. While it’s one myth that would be nice if it were true, it isn’t. There is no cure for cerebral palsy. However, this does not mean children cannot have a healthy and productive life. Through family support, physical therapy and counselling, children with the condition can thrive and can lead happy lives.

Cerebral palsy means being mentally challenged

Although I struggled with school and had learning disabilities, it’s not true that all children with the condition will have learning disabilities and other cognitive challenges. It all depends on associating factors of the condition.

There are many children with the condition who score high in aptitudes test with cerebral palsy who go on to achieve college degrees.

14 Sep, 2019

4 thoughts on “Myths about cerebral palsy

  1. Yes, I have noticed that a lot of people have many misconceptions about what CP is, as I have experienced it many times with my daughter.

    They always seem to equate cerebral palsy with things like mental retardation, but that is far from the case. My daughter may have difficulties with walking and talking, but that doesn’t mean she’s stupid which people assume.

    She’s a very sweet and sensitive girl. It always irritated me when people would treat her that way. There are just too many stigmas associated with cerebral palsy and I can relate because of what I deal with around my mental health issues.

    I know that I should have done more with dealing with my daughter and her issues, but I didn’t deal with my own mental health issues, so I am trying to help her more now.

    1. Thanks Randy. Yes, we must break the silence on cerebral palsy and make a platform for it so that people not only talk about, but come to understand what cerebral palsy means and how it presents for each of us.

      Given your daughter is younger than me, you would have thought there would be more understanding, but there isn’t. You understand more, because you’ve made it your way to understand your daughter’s condition and you are trying to help her, although that’s not always easy.

      The myths are there because of the ignorance that is still out there. No one understands about cerebral palsy. They imagine people in wheelchairs, not being able to talk and not being able to learn. I have come across people who have never even heard of cerebral palsy.

      The sooner we learn about people’s disability and we embrace the whole disability thing, the sooner each of our lives will be enriched.

  2. Just found your blog. I am 37 years old and am a scientist. Even with two college degrees and a national board certification, it always amazes me how many people think because I walk and talk differently, I’m stupid.

    I work full time, serve on two national science boards, am married, and own my own house.

    1. Hi David and welcome to the site. Yes, prejudices and judging a book by its cover is how the world operates.

      This isn’t about you, it’s about the world’s inability to accept people as they are. That doesn’t reflect on you, or your abilities.

      It’s as if we’re stuck in a time-warp. What I know is that if attitudes and perceptions were to change, we’d all be different people, living better lives, living in a sweeter world.

      When we are able to take away the ego, we live better, more fulfilling lives and that changes attitudes. Life generally becomes easier.

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