Demystifying developmental disabilities: What is cerebral palsy?

Nov 22, 19 Demystifying developmental disabilities: What is cerebral palsy?

DEVELOPMENTAL DISABILITIES EXPLAINED, WHAT IS CEREBRAL PALSY

A developmental disability (DD) is any number of congenital (from birth) physical, learning, language, and behavior conditions. DD impairs daily functioning such as speaking, walking, and motor coordination. Although the symptom severity can improve overtime, these conditions last the person’s lifetime. Because DD occurs before and during the developmental period, symptoms may go unnoticed until delays meeting developmental milestones are noticed. Keep in mind, that everyone develops at a different pace, but developmental milestones provide a general indicator of what skills children “should” have by certain age. For example, typically by 6 months a baby should be able to roll in both directions, respond to their own name, and place things in their mouth.

The CDC offers a pretty good list of milestones. CLICK HERE to take a look, after you read the rest of this article 😉

Cerebral palsy explained

Cerebral (brain) palsy (paralysis and/or involuntary tremors), or CP, is a neurological developmental disability that impacts coordination and how the body moves. Symptoms can include

  • lack of muscle coordination when performing voluntary movements (ataxia);
  • stiff or tight muscles and exaggerated reflexes (spasticity);
  • weakness in one or more arm or leg;
  • walking on the toes, a crouched gait, or a “scissored” gait;
  • variations in muscle tone, either too stiff or too floppy;
  • excessive drooling or difficulties swallowing or speaking;
  • shaking (tremor) or random involuntary movements;
  • delays in reaching motor skill milestones; and
  • difficulty with precise movements such as writing or buttoning a shirt (National Institute of Neurological Disorders, 2019.)

CLICK HERE to learn more about CP. You will also find a very handy glossary to help you with some of the more complex terminology.


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External Resources

United Cerebral Palsy Foundation

Mayo Clinic

Genetics Home Reference – NIH

Support program: Autism Sibling Support Initiative

Support program: Sibling Support Project

Maryland Developmental Disabilities Council

Maryland Early Intervention and Special Education Services

Administration for Community Living

Pathfinders for Autism

Disability Scoop

Maryland Preschool Special Education

Maryland Department of Education Division of Early Childhood

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