Cerebral Palsy World
Home Contact Message Board Guestbook Chat Room Our Supporters
What is CP?
Signs & Symptoms
Types of CP
Real-Life Stories
CP & Your Health
Success Stories
History of CP
United Cerebral Palsy
Economic Impact
Independent Living
CP & Law
CP Dictionary
Causes of CP
CP & Education
CP & Celebrities
Ability Camp
Cerebral Palsy & Education

As a parent of a child with cerebral palsy, it is likely that you have put considerable thought into your child's education. Depending on the severity of his or her cerebral palsy, you may be considering special education, or you may be considering mainstreaming" your child. You may also be concerned about testing your child\'s abilities, and deciding what is best for your child, or how you will afford to pay for specialized educational services. In this section of the directory, you will find information on schools, scholarships, government financing, and IFSPs, IEPs and IHPs.

Early Intervention

An early intervention service is one that begins before three years of age and is designed to improve the development of a child with a developmental delay or disability. These services can include special instruction; physical, occupational, or speech therapy; health services; family training and counseling; or assistive technology services.

If your child has motor problems, whether or not he or she has been formally diagnosed with cerebral palsy, it is important that he or she receive special education and therapy services as soon as possible. Intervention is vital during this very early time (before the age of three) because the young brain has a certain degree of plasticity, or the ability to be molded with appropriate input. At no other stage in life does a child learn and develop more quickly as he or she does during the first few years of life. Through early intervention, infants and young children with cerebral palsy can be helped to develop more normal posture, muscle tone, and movement patterns; they can be taught the movements they will later use in feeding, bathing, and dressing themselves and in doing school work; and they can learn through play and teach experiences that are adapted to their specific needs.

In addition to giving your baby the best chance for optimal development, an early intervention program can provide support and guidance to your family as you learn about your baby and his special needs. The program can help you deal with the disappointment, anger or sadness you may feel since finding out that your baby has cerebral palsy. It can help other family members learn how to make these early days of caring for and playing with your baby easier and more enjoyable. It can also help you begin to learn how you can help your child become the most capable person he or she can be. Early intervention can help you begin to focus on what your baby can do, rather than on what he cannot do. Early intervention can help you begin to do something positive to guide your baby down the road of growth and development.

As soon as you know that your baby has a motor delay, you should seek early intervention services. If your baby has mild problems and you begin the intervention early, he or she may need services during only the infant and preschool years. If your child’s motor problems are severe, or if he has other related disabilities such as mental retardation, he may continue to need special educational and therapeutic services throughout his school years.

By beginning intervention early, you can help prevent muscle contractures and deformities that might other wise develop and that could make it more difficult for your child to move and take care of him or herself. You can also help alleviate the learning problems your child may have because he cannot handle and relate to toys and objects as other children do.

Early intervention programs for children with cerebral palsy should have a family-centered approach. Because your child depends upon your family for his or her survival and well-being, his or her program should be designed around the goals that you identify as being important for your child and family. For example, you may want you baby to improve his or her ability to suck and swallow so he or she can finish a bottle in thirty minutes. Or once your child is slightly older, you may want him or her to learn the names of his or her favorite foods, so that he or she can communicate at home and with friends and family. You may want to work on your child’s balance while sitting and standing with support so he or she can learn to walk alone. These types of goals are known as functional outcomes, because they are intended to help your child function as normally and independently as possible within your family and community.

Occasionally, early intervention is approached as a child-centered service, rather than a family-centered service. You may find a program that resembles a preschool or elementary school program that has just been moved down to a younger level. The teacher and therapists determine goals and objectives for children, and parents get reports of what their child is able to do with each of his or her specialists. If your child is placed in such a program, try to find ways to show the program staff that you as the parents are valuable members of the team. Remember, you have information about your child relevant to the goals of the professionals, and you also have a need to know about adaptive handling, positioning and learning experiences for your baby. Your child needs your input and support to make the most of his or her early intervention program.



Any change within a family has the potential to create stress in the family situation. When children are involved, it can sometimes seem like a wise thing to hide the facts to avoid an emotional meltdown. This, however, is never the way to go about bringing your children into the reality of change. Since the unknown is always worse than the known, you should always give your children enough information to ease their fears.

You don ‘t need to get technical, but give them information appropriate to their age-levels. For instance, if you are helping your cerebral palsied child with some exercises to help with their movement and muscle tone, their siblings may be curious. Instead of trying to explain the physiological reasons behind the exercises, you might say, “They need some extra special exercises to help their legs get stronger”, or “Their muscles don’t work the same as yours; he can’t move around as well and he might not for a long time, so we need to help him a little more.” Try not to tell you children half-truths, even if it seems easier at the time. Even if one answer may be easier for you to explain why your child is crying, saying he’s sad when it is because of his cerebral palsy will only further confuse his siblings. Assuring your children that their sibling cannot die for cerebral palsy is important, as they will no-doubt quickly sense that something is wrong due to the frequent visits to many different doctors and therapists. You should also try to reassure your child that it is okay to feel strongly about their sibling’s disability, and that it isn’t anyone’s fault that they have cerebral palsy. Remember, a straightforward approach diffuses fear and helps your child feel important and a vital part of the care-giving.

Once you have explained your child’s disability to your other children, you should still expect to have to re-explain it. Even once they understand that their sibling is disabled, they still may not know what their sibling can and cannot do, and as the disabled child grows and becomes stronger or begins to master the use of special mechanical aids and communications devices, what they can and cannot do will change drastically. You can help this process of understanding along by periodically pointing out your disabled child’s small victories to his or her brothers and sisters. For instance, “Remember when he couldn’t walk? Now he can run on his crutches!” Or, “Isn’t it amazing how she uses her communication board? She’s faster than all of us now!” Not only will this help them to better understand their sibling’s progress, it will also be positive reinforcement of their attitudes and feelings towards their disabled sibling.

As a parent, having a new child with special needs can be overwhelming, and having other children in the home already can lead to much competing for attention, even when the newborn is not disabled. Be assured that this is a normal reaction for older siblings, and as long as you do your best to balance the attention, it should eventually dissipate. Having a child with special needs means that they may not always be able to accompany the family on special outings. For instance, if your family has planned to go on a picnic, but there is quite a lot of hiking required to get there, it is likely your child with cerebral palsy will not be able to go. Instead of canceling the whole family outing, as the other siblings may feel they are suffering on the behalf of your cerebral palsied child’s enjoyment, have one family member stay home and plan a special activity for just the two of them. This will help to avoid possible resentment by other siblings.

Having other children in the home will in the short run complicate the matter of your child’s special needs, as the stress of the adjustment may seem greater with more family members. In the long run, however, having other children in the home can immensely aid the social development of both the child with special needs and his or her siblings. To begin with, your child’s siblings can help him or her to develop social skills, as it is not uncommon for cerebral palsied children to have some developmental difficulties in the realm of social interaction. Being comfortable around people closer to his or her age will help him learn to be himself, and not feel like he is always under pressure to perform. As for your children who are not disabled, studies have shown that having a child with disabilities has a positive influence on the lives of children in the family. These studies have shown that “children who are actively involved with a brother or sister with a disability have a better sense of themselves and better relationships with others. They are also more sensitive and aware of the world around them.” Furthermore, having a child with cerebral palsy in the family can result in new perspectives and a tolerance that might not have occurred otherwise.

Children, however, are not the only members in your family equation hat must be taken into account. Grandparents and other relatives will also need to be told about your child’s disability. There is no universal way to break the new of your child’s cerebral palsy to your relatives, and the manner in which you do so will depend greatly on your relationship with them and whether or not they had any prior knowledge of any worries you may have had about you child’s development. However you decide to tell them, be ready for a series of reactions. Like you, they may feel grief, anger, shock, denial or a vast array of other emotions. Your parents may feel that they are somehow to blame for your child’s cerebral palsy because of genes, or they may even attempt to pin blame on you, your spouse or the medical profession.

After they have begun to deal with the reality of your child’s disability, family members will often overwhelm you with “cures” they have read about, or referrals to specialists they have heard about. While this behavior may be unsolicited, it is rarely meant as a means to belittle your parenting ability, and is generally just bourn out of a desire to help your child.

Grandparents in particular tend to shower disabled children with affection, and are often tempted to smother, overprotect or spoil your child. This should always be discouraged, as it can impede normal social development and case resentment among other family members grandchildren.

The adjustment of having a new family member with cerebral palsy is usually a large one, but is definitely not where your family’s usefulness ends. While it is important for everyone after they have adjusted to treat your disabled child as an equal member of the family, it is also essential to the child’s progress for his or her family to be their best source of support. Growing up with cerebral palsy is difficult, and an important role of the family is to take away any undue difficulty. It doesn’t have to be just you that helps your child with exercises and stretches, or plays with him or her to help their skills develop. The whole family can be involved in the development of your disabled child, and having an understanding and supportive family while growing up with cerebral palsy can make all the difference.


Cerebral Palsy: Society & Education

The United Cerebral Palsy Associations estimate that more than 500,000 Americans have cerebral palsy. While this is only a mere .002 % of the overall U.S. population, there are many organizations, both governmental and private, that have been established to help people with cerebral palsy live a successful and fruitful life. One of the biggest problems that arises with cerebral palsy is the transition to school, and then to adulthood. As a child with cerebral palsy, it can be much easier to get the medical help you require to develop at a more normal rate. As an adult, while you may not need developmental assistance, you will still require money, medical attention, and, while perhaps not necessary but still quite important, someone to share your life with.

All of these aspects of living with cerebral palsy, from your first day of school to your first day on the job, can be quite stressful. Before your first day of school, you have to be evaluated, have and Individual Education Plan drawn up for you, and it must be decided whether or not you will attend a special education school or a mainstream school. And beyond that, these decisions must be re-visited at least every year. Once you have completed your educational career, your wishes, as with most other adults, disabled or not, will likely be to be able to live independently and get a job, regardless of whether or not you have government funds. Once you have gone through the process of finding a way to live on your own (at least with minimal assistance), and once you have found a job, it is likely that you will desire companionship on a deeper level. Sexuality can be hard for people with cerebral palsy to express, mainly because of the societal taboo of people with disabilities being sexual, but it doesn’t have to be.

This website will explore some of the issues surrounding cerebral palsy, from school and the education system, including: parent’s rights, evaluations, early interventions, whether you should attend regular or special education schools and training plans (the IFSP, IEP and IHP), to transitions to adulthood, such as adulthood and occupations and sex and adulthood. Each section has links to organizations and websites that may be of interest to you


Educational Issues

Education is the cornerstone of our future lives. It is the key that opens the door to all our future opportunities. Most everything we are able to do as adults is a result of what we have learned as children. This includes the value we put upon ourselves as human beings, as well as our social standing and ability to be financially and domestically independent and to fulfill our ambitions. The kind of education we receive can empower or inhibit depending on where we are taught, what we are taught, by whom we are taught and with what end in view.

The focus of the education your child receives will impact the skills that he learns, thus deciding what kind of focus his or her education revolves around is quite important, both in the short and long term. If the child’s education is aimed at giving him or her the ability to live independently, it is possible that the skills that might lead him to achieving a rewarding career may be cut short, as to make sure he or she will be able to survive independently. If your aim is to help your child by giving him the skills through his or her education to obtain a gainful and rewarding employment opportunity, it is possible that skills that might lead him to live independently will be overlooked to some extent.

The early years of education usually bring about significant changes for children, including the child with a disability. In between the ages seven and twelve, a child’s rate of physical improvement has leveled off in areas such as balance and coordination, and it is generally considered as a good point in the child’s life to refocus their efforts from physical improvement and toward intellectual learning and growth. Children without disabilities are likewise being encouraged to concentrate more on academics and less on play, but for the child with cerebral palsy these years usually involve coming to term with a decreased level of physical function.

It is important to consider many factors when choosing a learning environment for your child. You must consider that a child needs to be in an environment where he or she can learn without being overly frustrated. It is clear that children with cerebral palsy benefit greatly from interacting with children who do not have disabilities, but they need to be placed in an appropriate leaning environment, as well.

The choice of school environment is often difficult. In many school districts across the nation, parents are not given reasonable options, and this of course complicates the process of placing a child with special needs into an appropriate educational setting. Depending on the type of cerebral palsy and the degree of its severity, the current trend is to “mainstream” the child, or place the disabled child into regular classes with non-disabled children. For instance, if a diplegic child who is only mildly affected is mainstreamed, it allows him or her to become involved in normal activity as soon as possible, thus giving them the opportunity to perhaps grow socially and emotionally with their non-disabled peers. If the child is moderately to severely affected, the school may choose to mainstream the child only in the case of art and music classes, so they may still be able to have some integration into activities with their peers. Make certain that properly trained staff are available to meet the needs of your child and to manage interactions with other children. It is often quite uncomfortable, embarrassing and even belittling for a child to be pointed out as different form his or her peers, so it is important that you strike a balance when choosing the appropriate school.

Whatever the extent of your child’s disabilities, he or she will no doubt be helped quite a bit by a little extra preparation before entering a full-time educational environment. Pre-school is an excellent opportunity to prepare your child for a more academically-centered setting, as well as helping him or her to learn how to interact with non-disabled children in a comfortable manner. There is much research to suggest that the earlier a disabled child begins to interact with his or her peers, the more likely it is that he or she will be more socially successful later in their educational career.

A common consideration in the process of educating your disabled child is whether or not your child has a learning disability. Many children with cerebral palsy frequently develop learning disabilities. A child with a learning disability has an average or above average level of intelligence, but has difficulty processing certain types of information. In addition to possibly having a learning disability, many children with cerebral palsy are limited in their ability to communicate. Because of this, they are sometimes deemed to have much less intellectual ability than they actually do, as teachers may not be able to tell whether or not the child understands the lesson if they are unable to speak. Due to this, many children with cerebral palsy are unnecessarily placed into special education programs, many of which focus much of the time in school on different therapies, to the detriment of academic progress. Because of this common misconception of intelligence levels and cognitive ability among children with cerebral palsy, it is important that you enlist professionals to help you assess your child’s specific educational strengths and needs. Learning problems usually become evident in the pre-school or early school years. Often they are a result of two other problems common in children with cerebral palsy: visual-perception disorders or developmental language disorders. Sometimes, a child with mild or minimal cerebral palsy may outgrow their cerebral palsy, but later develop learning disabilities. A special education program tailored to your child, whether or not you choose to place your child into a segregated special school or into a mainstream school, can be invaluable to helping them minimize their learning disabilities, or even avoid them completely.

Obviously, school systems vary from district to district, city to city, state to state. Be sure to research your choices in educating your child. Some regular schools have aides in the classrooms, so that more attention can be given to the learning needs of disabled children, and some schools have only one teacher for all the students. Whether or not you choose to place your child in a special school or a mainstream school should depend on how much it will benefit your child. Because every child, disabled or not, is unique, a special school with only disabled children may not suit your child, as the education is not tailored to your child’s specific needs. Do not assume that simply because a school is for disabled children, it will best fit your disabled child. Likewise, even if you believe that integration into an educational setting with your child’s non-disabled peers will help his or her development, do not force your child into regular education if it is obvious that they would benefit from services offered at a special school.

No matter what path of education you choose for your child, be sure that it fits them, and that you are there to support them and listen to tem every step of the way. Especially if your child is in a mainstream school, he or she may come up against bullying, ridicule and isolation. Listen to his or her fears and concerns, and always make sure to help the child understand that it is not their fault. Keeping the child’s positive image of themselves alive and well will help them to succeed in every facet of life.


Training Plans and IFSP, IEP & IHP

A child with cerebral palsy can face many challenges in school and is likely to need individualized help. Fortunately, states are responsible for meeting the educational needs of children with disabilities.

For children up to age three, services are provided through an early intervention system. States receiving grants to provide early intervention services must draft an “individual family service plan”, or an IFSP, for each family.

The IFSP is a family-centered plan, and does not solely provide service for your child with cerebral palsy. In addition to any services your child may receive, IFSPs describe services that will be provided to: help you learn how to use daily activities to teach your child with cerebral palsy; and help siblings learn to cope with having a brother or sister with cerebral palsy. The procedures and strategies for developing a useful IFSP are the same as those for developing an Individualized Education Plan (IEP). Bear in mind that your IFSP should be reviewed every 6 months.

One important recent change to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) requires that early intervention services be provided to children and families to the “maximum extent appropriate” in the child’s “natural environment.” This requirement means that services should be provided at your home or a place familiar to your child rather than at a center. This reflects IDEA’s strong preference for inclusion, or placing disabled children in regular schools with their non-disabled peers.

IDEA recognizes that each child with a disability is unique. As a result, the law requires that your child’s special education program be tailored to his or her individual needs. Based on your child’s evaluation, a program designed specifically to address her developmental problems must be devised. This is called an individualized education program, or more commonly and IEP. The IEP is a written report that describes: your child’s current level of development; your child’s developmental strengths and needs; both the short-term and annual goals of the special education program; the specific educational services that your child will receive; the date services will start and their expected duration; standards for determining whether the goals of the educational programs are being met; the extent to which your child will participate in regular educational programs; the behavior intervention programs that will be used to enable your child to participate in regular education classrooms without impeding his or her or other student’s learning; your child’s communication needs; and parent concerns.

Under federal regulations, educational placements must be based on the IEP, not the other way around. In other words, the services your child receives and the setting in which he or she receives them should be determined by your child’s individual needs, not by the availability of existing programs.

A child’s IEP is usually developed during a series of meetings between parents, teachers, and other school district representatives. Your child may be present at these meetings if you feel so inclined as to bring them. School districts are required to establish committees to make these placement and program decisions. These committees are sometimes referred to as Child Study Teams or Administrative Placement Committees.

Writing an IEP is ideally a cooperative effort, with parents, teachers, therapists, and school officials conferring on what goals are appropriate and how best to achieve them. Because of IDEA’s emphasis on inclusion, regular education teachers are required to be on the IEP team. Preliminary drafts of the IEP are reviewed and revised in an attempt to develop a mutually acceptable educational program.

The importance of your role as parent in this process cannot be overemphasized. You cannot always depend on teachers or school officials to recognize your child’s unique needs. To obtain the full range of services, you may need to demonstrate that withholding certain services would result in an education that would not be “appropriate” (as IDEA has specified a child’s right to a “free appropriate public education”). For instance, if you want an academic-oriented program for your child, you must demonstrate that a program that only emphasizes vocational or functional skills is not appropriate given your child’s skills, abilities, and needs.

IEPs should be very detailed. You and your child’s teachers should set specific goals for every area of development, and specify how and when those goals will be reached. Although the thought of specific planning may seem intimidating at first, a detailed IEP enables you to closely monitor the education you child receives and to make sure he or she actually receives the services prescribed. In addition, the law requires that IEPs be reviewed at least once every year, and more often if necessary, to ensure your child’s educational program continues to meet her ever-changing needs.

Because your child has special needs, his or her IEP must be written with care to meet those needs. Unless you request specific services, they may be overlooked. You should made sure school officials recognize the unique needs of your child- the needs that make him or her different from other children with disabilities.

Before the IEP meeting, you should do some preparing by exploring available educational programs, including public, private, federal, state, county and municipal. Try attending some classes at your local mainstream school, and see if you think your child with cerebral palsy would benefit from attending school there. Also, before the meeting you should collect a complete set of developmental evaluations to share with school officials, and look over them yourself. And last, but most certainly not least, decide for yourself what short-term and long-term goals you think are appropriate for you child, and in what kind of program you think best suited for him or her. After you’ve made this decision, suggest it at your child’s IEP meeting.

To support placement in a particular type of program, you should collect “evidence” about your child’s special needs. Then, support your position that a particular type of placement is appropriate by presenting letters from physicians, psychologists, therapists (speech-language, physical, or occupational), teachers, developmental experts, or other professionals. This evidence may help to persuade a school district that the requested placement or services are the appropriate choices for your child.

When the time has come for your IEP meeting, do not attend it alone- bring a spouse, lawyer, advocate, physician, teacher or whomever you would like for support, including, of course, your child. While at the meeting, try to keep close track of everything the IEP team says, and take notes if possible, always get everything in writing and be assertive. Children with unique developmental challenges need parents to be assertive and persuasive advocates during the IEP process. This does not mean that school officials are always adversaries, but does mean that you are your child’s most important advocate, because you know him or her best.

Many years down the line, when your child has finished his or her educational career, it will be important for you as a parent to help you child to set up a career. In much the same way that an IEP is developed, and in much the same way that an IEP helps your child get the most out of his or her education, when your child is ready to enter the work force, he or she will no doubt benefit from an Individualized Habilitation Plan, or an IHP. The IHP sets forth the services needed to enable a person with a disability to work productively, as well as the services needed to live independently, if desired. For instance, if a personal assistant is required for a person with cerebral palsy to help with cooking meals, cleaning house and grooming so that he or she can live in the community, it should be included in the services prescribed by the IHP. Because the trend to include personal assistants in services is fairly new, however, public funding is still spotty. While it is improving, it is not guaranteed that your state covers it through Medicaid, as it is still optional for them to include it or not.


Parent and Individual Rights

As a parent of a child with cerebral palsy, it is important to understand the laws that apply to your child and you. There are laws that guarantee your child’s rights to attend school and to lie and work in the community; laws that can provide your child financial and medical assistance; and laws that can govern your long-term planning for your child’s future.

If you know what your child is legally entitled to, this knowledge can help to make sure that your child receives the education, training and special services he or she needs to reach his or her potential. As well as knowing that you are entitled to governmental support, you are also entitled to be treated with the respect every person deserves, regardless of disability. Knowing what is considered as illegal discrimination can allow you to assert your or your child’s rights as dictated by law. Also, if you know that, at times, laws can cause problems for families of children with disabilities, you can avoid making unsuspecting mistakes that could be a detriment to planning your child’s future.

While there may be quite a few things you will encounter that in raising your child that are exclusive to your child and cerebral palsy, there are no laws that deal solely with cerebral palsy. The laws that govern the rights of a person with cerebral palsy can be found along with the same laws that pertain to all disabled persons. Because the laws that provide your child with the right to an education are so complex and numerable, and as they differ from state to state and locality to locality, this is only a brief discussion of the most important. For more information on the particular laws in your area, contact the United Cerebral Palsy Association (UCP), the national office of The Arc (formerly the Association for Retarded Citizens), or local governmental offices.

Your child’s rights to an education are among the most essential rights people with disabilities have been granted. Until the middle of this century, children with disabilities were generally excluded from public schools. Often, they were sent away to residential “schools”, “homes” and institutions, or their parents grouped together to form private part-time programs. In the 1960’s, federal, state and local governments began to provide educational opportunities to children with disabilities; these laws have continued to expand and improve to present day.

Perhaps one of the most influential laws to affect a disabled child’s right to an education is the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA), first enacted in 1975 and extensively amended in 1997 and administered by the U.S. Department of Education (DOE). IDEA has vastly improved educational opportunities for almost all children with disabilities. Under IDEA, the federal government provides funds for the education for disabled children for each state that has a special education program that meets the standards established by IDEA and the regulations issued by DOE. To qualify for federal funds, each state must demonstrate that it is providing all children with disabilities a “free appropriate public education” in the “least restrictive environment” that meets IDEA’s standards. At a minimum, states that receive federal funding under IDEA must provide approved special education services, opportunities for participation in the regular curriculum (called inclusion or mainstreaming), and a variety of procedural rights to children with disabilities and their parents. The allure of federal funds has been attractive enough to induce all states to provide special education for children with disabilities, including children with cerebral palsy.

IDEA, however, has its limits. The law only establishes that the minimum requirements in special education be met by every state that desires federal funding. It does not require states to adopt the most ideal educational programs for children with disabilities, and neither does it require uniformity throughout the programs in the U.S. The special education programs will always vary by state to state, including such variables as the student to teacher ratio and what teaching materials are available. State can create special education programs better that what is required by IDEA, and some have. Check with the placement or intake officer of the special education department of your school district to determine exactly what classes, programs and services are available to your child.

One of IDEA’s most fundamental aspects is the guarantee of “free appropriate public education”. “Free” means that no matter what your ability to pay for your child’s education is, your child is entitled to his or her education at public expense, including all special needs your child may have. If the state cannot provide an appropriate environment for your child to learn in, it will place that child in a private program at the state’s expense. If you decide to place your child in a program that the state has not approved for your child, however, you may have to bear the full cost of his or her special education.

While IDEA may not require states to establish educational programs that are the best money can buy, if they receive federal funding, there are still goals that must be met. IDEA requires that states receiving federal funding achieve “educational success”. They must establish measurable performance goals for children with disabilities that lead towards economic independence, community living, and employment as adults. IDEA holds each state responsible for the effectiveness of its special education program.

Only you know what your child is capable of, and only you can assure that your child receives the most appropriate placement and special services. Under IDEA, parents and teachers are required to work together to design an individualized education program (IEP) for each child.

Under IDEA, an appropriate education consists of “special education and related services. “Special education” means instruction specifically designed to meet the unique needs of the child with disabilities, provided in a range of settings, including regular education classrooms, separate classrooms, home instruction, or instruction in private schools, hospitals or institutions. Regular education teachers, special education teachers, therapists and other professionals, all provided by the school district at public expense, are responsible for delivering these educational services. In addition, supplementary aids and services can be provided to enable a student to participate in regular education classrooms. “Related services” are defined as transportation and other developmental, corrective, and supportive services necessary to enable the child to benefit from special education.

IDEA also specifies that the child must be educated in the least restricting environment possible. The least restrictive environment is the educational setting that permits your child to have the most contact possible at school with other children who do not have disabilities as well as involvement in the general curriculum. In this sense, IDEA is specifically intended, at least in part, to end the historical practice of isolating children with disabilities either in separate schools or out-of-the-way classrooms and is intended to open the doors of your neighborhood school to your child with cerebral palsy. Once the doors are open, IDEA requires your school to find ways to truly integrate your child into the typical educational life.

A child is covered by IDEA from the age of three until at least the age of 18, and in states that allow non-disabled people to attend school until 21; the same is true for your child with disabilities. Under IDEA, a state must provide more than the traditional 180-day school year when the needs of a child indicate that year-round instruction is a necessary part of a “free appropriate education.” In most states, the decision as to whether or not your child should receive year-round instruction is based greatly on whether or not your child will “regress”, or lose a substantial amount of the knowledge obtained in the school year. If so, summer instruction will be provided at the state’s expense. Some children with cerebral palsy can regress without year-round services, and if this is the case for your child do not hesitate to request year-round instruction.

IDEA can only go so far as to provide the right to an education for your child. You must carry out that opportunity and make sure your child receives the education and special services he or she needs.


Sexuality and Cerebral Palsy

Western culture has always portrayed sex as taboo for anyone, disabled or not, and for many years it was assumed that people with disabilities were asexual, or that they did not have a desire for sexual intimacy. This, of course, is quite false. Disabled or not, every person has sexual urges that are completely biological and inevitable. Many parents feel quite awkward toward discussing the topics of sex, sexual maturation and masturbation with their adolescents. This can be especially uncomfortable if your child is physically restricted, as it is possible that they will be physically unable to have intercourse. Some people with cerebral palsy tend to have severe muscle cramping and spasms during intercourse, and so it can be more painful than pleasurable in many cases. This does not go for all cerebral palsied persons, as there are many men and women with cerebral palsy who are married and have children.

Even if the actual act of intercourse is not possible for the severely disabled person, sexual intimacy is still possible, and can be quite satisfying. Things such as sensual massage can lead to orgasm, as well as other sexual aids and techniques. When a person is unable to express him or herself sexually (unless it is by choice), they often do not feel like a whole person. Many times non-disabled people, especially teenagers, may discriminate against disabled people, in that they may consider them as a good friend, but would never consider them as a partner or lover. This can be a very painful cycle of rejection for many people with a disability, and helping your child to have a strong self-esteem is one of the best ways to combat any negative effects such discrimination might have on them.



Disclaimer    |   References and Sources
Website hosted by Computer Development Systems, LLC