Have you seen the hit ABC TV show Speechless? If not, check out Season 1 on Amazon for a humorous sneak peak into the life of the DiMeo family. Young actor Micah Fowler who has cerebral palsy, portrays JJ a teenager with CP. JJ is non-verbal and utilizes a communication device as well as a power wheelchair for mobility. Check it out and you may find yourself relating to some of the challenges and humors you face as a parent of a child with differing abilities and differing disabilities.
Approximately 10,000 babies born in the United States each year will develop Cerebral Palsy. It is the most common motor disability in children in the United States. It is caused by brain damage that often occurs during pregnancy or shortly after birth. The cause of Cerebral Palsy is unknown 80% of the time. In time, hopefully, research will help identify the cause of Cerebral Palsy for each individual.
Cerebral Palsy can affect a person’s posture, balance, and ability to move, communicate, eat, sleep, and learn. However, the level of severity and combinations of these symptoms can vary for each person. One person may have hand weakness and struggle to tie their shoes or button their shirt. Another person may have little control over their movement and require assistance for everything from getting in and out of bed to shifting their weight. Yet another individual may have weakness in their mouth and jaw making it challenging to coordinate swallowing or speaking.
Although Cerebral Palsy is a permanent life-long condition, symptoms can improve over time with the help of physical, occupational and speech therapies in addition to other medical specialties.
Dr. Angela Kloiber is a licensed Physical Therapist with Aspire Therapy