Living Independently With Cerebral Palsy

For the mildly and moderately disabled, living independently with Cerebral Palsy is not out of the question. In fact, it is recommended for parents and caregivers to challenge people with CP to maximize their potential abilities and not settle for anything less than their best efforts. The more any persons with disabilities can do for themselves; the better off those individuals will be as adults. 

For example, living independently with cerebral palsy can solve a lot of problems later in life. What happens when the parents become too elderly and sick to care for a son/daughter with cerebral palsy? Does the chore then fall to the siblings or the state? What not aim for the possibility that a physically challenged child can grow up to have a job, have his/her own home, or at least live in an assisted living apartment where someone will come in and do the cleaning and make sure an individual with CP is doing okay on his/her own.

Children with cerebral palsy with reach their full potential both physically and mentally, if they have parents that concentrate on the abilities rather than the disability. Even the smallest victories can be monumental. But, sometimes it takes a lot of tough love and a strong heart to help a child with cerebral palsy discover new abilities. 

Case in Point: A young girl born with cerebral palsy has loving parents who unfortunately disagree on the approach to her care. The father prefers to have someone do things for her, to make life a little easier. On the other hand, the mom does not want her to be 40 years old and still living at home, if there is any chance she has the potential to lead an independent life.

So, at around the age of seven, the mom decides it is time she quits dressing her physically challenged daughter every day, just to make the process faster and easier. Instead, she knows this ability, that most people take for granted, is absolutely necessary to any level of independence.

One Saturday morning, with nothing on the agenda, the young girl is given her clothes for the day and told she can go outside and play, after she gets dressed. Of course, a temper tantrum ensues. Why has Mom abandoned her? Well, the desire to play outside on a summer day is a great motivator. Although the first solo attempt at dressing takes 2-3 hours, she is able to go outside.

Love is Often Hard Was it hard for Mom to walk away, while hearing her daughter cry and struggle? Of course! But, she knew that if the task is accomplished today, it would get easier tomorrow and the next day. The end goal keeps Mom from rushing in, wiping away her daughter’s tears and frustration, and finishing the job in just a couple of minutes.

The Rest of the Story So, you probably want to know what happened. Did the girl with cerebral palsy live independently as an adult? The answer is yes. No, she will never change a ceiling light bulb. She occasionally has to ask for help from a friend. But, she learns to drive with hand controls, owns her home, is raising two children and working to make a living.

Is this outcome typical? Maybe. Maybe not. But, if you are the parent of a child with cerebral palsy, concentrate on his/her abilities, not the disabilities. You are the cheerleader, the number one fan. You have the power to push, console, and get the necessary help to encourage your child with cerebral palsy to live independently, if possible. Isn’t that what all parents do for their children, whether they have a disability or not?