Cerebral Palsy in the Classroom

Ali Haffner, Greg Solko, Cassidy Murphy, and Haley Mansfield

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  • 1 in 303 children are diagnosed with cerebral palsy.
  • 764,000+ Americans have this disorder.
  • Every year 10,000 infants are diagnosed with cerebral palsy, and 1,500 preschoolers are recognized to have the disorder.


  • This is a disorder of the brain that impairs control of movement, muscle tone, and/or posture.
  • Cause: injury or abnormal development in the immature brain (commonly before birth)
  • 70% of cases are present at birth, 20% are congenital
  • Leads to developmental delays
  • Non-progressive disease - This disease will not get better or worse over time, but the symptoms are subject to change.
  • 4 TYPES: Spastic CP (most common) -- Muscles are stiff and weak; Dyskinetic CP - difficult control of voluntary muscle movement; Ataxia CP - Poor balance and/or coordination; Mixed CP - Any combination of the above types
  • Typically effects arm and leg movement


Informal Identification: stiff or floppy muscles, exaggerated reflexes, involuntary movements, delayed development of motor skills, favoritism of one side of the body, trouble walking, drooling/difficulty eating, delatyed speech development.

Formal Identification: Brain Scans (MRI, Cranial Ultrasound, CT); EEG (if seizures are present); and Lab Tests (to rule out other conditions)

No DEFINITE test exits!


A. Speech therapists are good for the students at a young age to help them speak more clearly.
i. They also help them build stronger vocab and language skills, communicate in complete sentences, and improve their ability to listen.
ii. Students with cerebral palsy also have the ability to learn sign language to be able and communicate in the classroom.
iii. Communication aides are a great assistance to them posters, picture books, and PowerPoint’s some students even have access to computers that can talk for them.

B. An occupational therapist can also be used to help teach the student how to use their arms and legs Inc conjunction with each other.
i. They teach them easier and more efficient ways to use their arms, legs, and upper body.
ii. Teach the students how to write draw, use scissors, and brush their teeth.

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Teaching those affected

A. First parents, teachers, and therapists should develop a IEP to decide the severity of the students disorder.
B.. Allow the student to move about freely as if they are forced NOT to move their muscles will tighten and cause severe pain.
C. Inform the class of the student and their disability so they can all be more comfortable around them and work with that student.

3. When can educators do to improve learning for students with cerebral palsy?

a. Incorporate as many multi sensory projects into their day as possible.
i. Audio-visual
ill use to learn from.
IV. Assess what skills they still need to develop and focus on those.
V. Encourage active participation for the student,
VI.. Do not time tests or make sure to give them ample time to complete the activities that are being required.

The Controversy Surrounding Patients with Cerebral Palsy

Unfortunately, there is no cure for Cerebral Palsy. However, several treatment options have been developed to treat the different kinds of C.P. Some of these treatments are controversial as their effectiveness cannot be completely proven and may even be harmful to the patient. The following list contains treatments currently surrounded with controversy:


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  • Mayo Clinic Staff. "Cerebral Palsy." Mayo Clinic. N.p., 10 Nov. 2010. 07 Mar. 2013.
  • "Understanding Cerebral Palsy -- the Basics." WebMD. N.p., 08 Mar. 2012. 07 Mar. 2013.
  • "Cerebral Palsy: Signs and Causes." Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. N.p., 21 Mar. 2011. 08 Mar. 2013.
  • "Cerebral Palsy: Controversial Treatments - Topic Overview." WebMD. N.p., 09 Sept. 2010.