Has your child just been diagnosed with cerebral palsy? This can be frightening if you are not familiar with what it means and what you can expect. We trust that this article helps you to understand the diagnosis and feel more in control.
Understanding Cerebral Palsy – What Is It and What Does It Mean?
Perhaps your first question is “What is cerebral palsy?” Your doctor may have explained to you in terms that you felt were difficult to understand or you may not even have an explanation at this point.
Cerebral palsy is a very varied disability caused by damage to a portion of the brain (different parts of the brain may be affected) from a lack of oxygen. The symptoms of cerebral palsy may vary quite dramatically with some children experiencing more mental disability and others more physical disability. In general though, cerebral palsy refers to a disorder of movement which could be anything from a slight limp to severe quadriplegic involvement confining the child to a wheelchair and leaving them helpless to care for any of their own needs. You will need to work through with your doctor and other medical team members what exactly it means for your child.
Allow Yourself to Grieve and Move to a Place of Acceptance
Most parents of a disabled child go through a grief period and it is important to accept this grieving so that you can move to a point of acceptance. Grieving does not mean you do not love your child, it just means that you have lost some dreams that you had for your child and are mourning that loss. Allow yourself to feel the pain, the anger, the disbelief and then to move through to a point where you can accept new hopes and dreams for your child.
Build a Support System for Yourself and Your Child
Your support base is going to be extremely important now and for many years to follow. Find friends, family, church members or a support group that can stand by you and support you when you are going through tough times. If you think of an area where friends and family can help then tell them – they often want to help but don’t really know how.
A diagnosis of cerebral palsy is not a death sentence or the end of the world – it is a chance to develop new hopes and dreams, build a strong support system and begin a new life with your child. Allow yourself to grieve and move through this to a point of acceptance, develop a strong support system and learn to understand cerebral palsy.