How Schools Provide for Children with Cerebral Palsy
Updated: Nov 8
What is Cerebral Palsy?
Cerebral palsy (CP) is a group of disorders that affect movement and coordination. It is caused by damage to the developing brain before birth, during birth, or shortly after birth. CP is a lifelong condition, but the severity of the symptoms can vary from person to person. Some people with CP may have mild symptoms, such as slight clumsiness or difficulty with balance. Others may have more severe symptoms, such as difficulty walking or speaking.
CP can affect children in several ways. It can cause them difficulty with movement, coordination, speech, and balance. It can also lead to learning disabilities and other cognitive problems.
Here are some specific examples of how CP can affect children:
Movement: Children with CP may have difficulty walking, running, climbing, and performing other physical activities.
Coordination: Children with CP may have difficulty with hand-eye coordination, which can make it difficult for them to do things like write, draw, and play sports.
Speech: Children with CP may have difficulty speaking clearly, making it challenging to communicate with others.
Balance: Children with CP may have difficulty with balance, making them more likely to fall.
Learning disabilities: Children with CP may have learning disabilities, such as dyslexia and dyscalculia.
Cognitive problems: Children with CP may have cognitive issues, such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and intellectual disability.
Despite their challenges, children with CP can live full and productive lives. With the proper support and treatment, they can achieve their goals and participate in the activities they enjoy.
What can schools do?
Schools play a vital role in supporting children with cerebral palsy (CP). Here are some ways schools can help children with CP:
Provide early intervention services. Early intervention services can help children with CP reach their full potential. These services may include physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, and special education.
Create an inclusive learning environment. Children with CP should have the same opportunities to learn and grow as their peers. Schools can create an inclusive learning environment by providing children with CP with the necessary accommodations and support.
Provide access to assistive technology. Assistive technology can help children with CP overcome challenges and participate fully in the classroom. Schools can provide children with CP access to assistive technology, such as computers, speech-to-text software, and text-to-speech software.
Educate staff and students about CP. Staff and students must understand CP to provide the necessary support and accommodation. Schools can educate staff and students about CP through training and workshops.
Collaborate with families. Families play a vital role in the education of their children with CP. Schools can collaborate with families to develop a plan for their child's success.
Here are additional examples of how schools can help children with CP:
Modify the classroom environment. Schools can modify the classroom environment to make it more accessible for children with CP. For example, schools can provide children with CP with desks and chairs that are the right height, and they can widen doorways and ramps to make it easier for children with CP to move around.
Provide one-on-one support. Schools can provide one-on-one support to children with CP who need extra help. For example, schools can provide children with CP with a paraprofessional to help them with their schoolwork or to help them move around the school.
Adapt the curriculum. Schools can adapt the curriculum to make it more accessible for children with CP. For example, schools can provide children with CP with audiobooks or digital versions of textbooks, and they can allow children with CP to use computers to take tests or complete assignments.
Provide opportunities for social interaction. Children with CP need to have chances for social interaction. Schools can provide children with CP opportunities to participate in extracurricular activities, such as sports and social clubs.
Schools can play a significant role in helping children with CP reach their full potential.
What about in NYC?
NYC schools offer a variety of services and support to students with cerebral palsy, including:
Inclusive classrooms: Students with cerebral palsy are placed in general education classrooms whenever possible, with the support of special education teachers and other related service providers.
Individualized education plans (IEPs): IEPs are developed for all students with disabilities, including those with cerebral palsy. IEPs outline the student's individual needs and goals, as well as the specific services and supports that the student will receive.
Accommodations and modifications: NYC schools provide a variety of accommodations and modifications to students with cerebral palsy, such as extended time on tests, preferential seating, and access to adaptive technology.
Related services: NYC schools offer various related services to students with cerebral palsy, such as physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy.
Are there resources in addition to classroom support?
NYC schools also have several resources available to support the social and emotional needs of students with cerebral palsy, such as:
School counselors and social workers: School counselors and social workers can provide individual and group counseling to students with cerebral palsy.
Peer support groups: Peer support groups can allow students with cerebral palsy to connect with other students with similar experiences.
Parent support groups: Parent support groups can provide parents of children with cerebral palsy information and support.
NYC schools are committed to providing all students with cerebral palsy with a high-quality education and the support they need to succeed. Families of children with cerebral palsy can learn more about the services and support available in NYC schools by contacting their child's school or the NYC Department of Education.
If your school is not actively participating in a way that provides your child with a quality education, please feel free to contact us at email@example.com, (866) 521-5769, or click the link to schedule a consultation.
1. C. Signs and Symptoms of Cerebral Palsy. https://www.daffodilhealth.com/cerebral-palsy/c.-signs-and-symptoms-of-cerebral-palsy-
2. Kasamba, Stella, et al. "Continuity of Early Intervention Services in New York City During the COVID-19 Pandemic." 2023, https://doi.org/10.5195/ijt.2023.6553.
3. Educational Support Services and Parent Relations (ESS&PR) – Educational Support – East Orange School District. https://www.eastorange.k12.nj.us/apps/pages/index.jsp?uREC_ID=2204160&type=d&pREC_ID=2193270