Raising a Child With Cerebral Palsy: Tips For First-Time Parents

When my youngest son was diagnosed with Autism it was not a surprise to me. Still, getting that diagnosis from the doctor- that I knew in my heart was coming- did not make it any easier to be on the receiving end of the doctor’s words. My son was already enrolled in therapies due to his delays but I immediately started educating myself more so that I could also help him the best I could at home in between his therapy sessions.

Along with learning about Autism, I found an online community who understood what I was going through. I connected with other moms who I could go to with questions, get encouragement from, and share my joys with. I’ll always be grateful for that community I discovered full of moms who held my hand during some of my hardest parenting years and helped me learn how to advocate for my son when he couldn’t do so for himself.

Since I know the importance of having quality resources and finding community, I was happy to partner up with the CP Family Network to share this guest post featuring some tips for parents who are raising children with cerebral palsy.

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Although CDC data shows that cerebral palsy (CP) is the most common motor disability in childhood, it’s never easy for any parent when they find out that their baby has the disorder. It gets even worse for first-time parents who have no experience raising any child, let alone one with special needs. But, although it can be extremely challenging in the beginning, many parents who have raised a child with CP will tell you that there is some light at the end of the tunnel and it does get better. Whether your little one has severe or mild CP, these are some of the ways you can help them live a healthy, happy, and comfortable life.

Learn about CP 

CP is a complicated disorder, which is why you must take the time to learn everything you can about it. Learning about cerebral palsy and how it affects your child will make you a more understanding caregiver, putting you in a better position to tend to their needs. It’s important to learn its underlying causes, how it affects movement, how it is treated, and how your child will develop differently compared to non-disabled children.

After learning the basics, the next step is to learn the ins and outs of your child’s specific condition, since no two children with CP are exactly alike when it comes to the severity and its effects on movement and communication. While at it, you can also learn how to care for your child as best you can at home, so that you don’t always have to rely on health care professionals. For example, with guidance from your child’s doctor and physical therapist, you can learn how to help your child exercise, stretch their muscles, reduce pain, and build balance between office visits.

Take care of yourself 

It’s easy to get so wrapped up in raising your child that you forget to take care of yourself. The financial and emotional strain that comes with CP can be a lot to handle, which is why it’s important to address and prevent these burdens before they become too much. One way to do this is by making sure that you get plenty of rest. Although a child with CP has many needs, taking care of them doesn’t have to take up all your time and energy. Give yourself some time off regularly so that you can unwind and release any bottled-up stress, anxiety, and depression. Another way to take care of yourself is by knowing when and where to get help when you need it.

Take advantage of available resources 

There are many free resources available for parents who have children with CP. Some of them include financial assistance from various organizations, government programs, and early intervention programs that provide no-cost treatment for children with CP who aren’t in school yet. You can also find various support communities where you can connect with other parents who’ve gone through what you’re experiencing, as well as professionals who can offer valuable advice to help you on your journey.

Finding out that your firstborn has CP can easily feel like the end of your world — but it doesn’t have to be. By learning how to care for your child and getting the help you need to do it properly, you can make your job easier and ensure that your little one grows up happy knowing that they can succeed in life despite facing challenges that most people don’t.

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