Cerebral Palsy: from Childhood to Adulthood
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Growing up is especially difficult for children with Cerebral Palsy. This is because their play, and sometimes their learning, is affected by the condition. Unfortunately, even children who are progressing will often lack confidence in their abilities, which can inhibit learning and performing tasks that they will need as they make the transition to adulthood.
Many children with Cerebral Palsy struggle in the social context, which can limit opportunities. There are ways that you can help, however. Placing special emphasis on job training, secondary education, and living independently will help your child realize that living on their own is possible in many situations.
Starting the Transition Phase into Adulthood
Transitioning into adulthood starts earlier for children with Cerebral Palsy compared to children that do not have similar conditions. There are services available through special education programs that will begin to develop a transition plan for your child around the age of 16. Every child is unique, so the services may only be minimal, or they may be extensive training opportunities.
A vital part of this process is allowing the child to gain confidence in their life skills and abilities. Parents have a tough time with this process as well because it is often difficult to watch the child that they have protected for so long beginning the process of living on his or her own.
Developing Life Skills
Life skills are vitally important for children preparing for adulthood. But, what do “life skills” really mean? Every small task that you do around the house, at work, or even while in public that you potentially take for granted is a life skill. Examples of life skills include cleaning, asking for directions, or using a computer.
Managing finances also plays a significant role in learning to live on your own. There are government programs and other assistance available, but relying on these programs is generally not a good idea. Instead, your child may need to be able to find another way to support himself or herself. Family may need to consider developing investment funds or savings accounts, or it could mean that the child should work toward obtaining employment.
Developing life skills is directly related to an individual’s quality of life. When people can complete tasks on their own, they feel a sense of accomplishment, purpose, and independence. For children with Cerebral Palsy, these feelings are particularly important.
Consider Vocational Counseling
Vocational counseling may be a helpful tool for your child. The process will assess your child’s basic abilities and interests and make recommendations for particular trades or careers. It can be a great way to help your child find a career that he or she will love and will also be able to perform based on his or her abilities.
It can also be a tool to help you determine which areas the child should improve upon to meet certain career goals. Vocational counseling will also point you and your child to resources and training to help develop skills and abilities that will be necessary in the workforce generally or for a particular career.
Quick Tips for Preparing for Adulthood
Every child learns differently, and every child is on a slightly different timeline when it comes to learning. Children with Cerebral Palsy need to start life lessons early to make progress toward living as a functioning adult. Following these tips can go a long way to prepare your child for adulthood and independent living.
- Always find creative ways that your child can participate, even if that means making modifications.
- Socialize your child early and encourage healthy relationships.
- Begin simple life lessons as soon as the toddler stage.
- Optimize any opportunity to be mobile and to communicate with others.
- Use special education opportunities and resources to their full potential (these services will not be as available for your child when he or she is considered an adult)
- Work to develop coping skills.
- Consider using occupational therapy to tackle challenging tasks or use the training to focus on specific job skills in which your child has expressed interest.
- Plan ahead for housing or rental needs.
- Consider all of your options for future education, including trade schools and college.
- Work to learn and master the transportation system or obtain a driver’s license.
- Would a personal care assistant or support animal be helpful for your child?
There is a lot to think about as your child grows, and using the resources available to you is the best way to help your child move toward a successful adult life.
Cerebral Palsy can develop through preventable a birth error. If this may have happened to you and your child, contact a Baltimore medical malpractice lawyer by calling 410-825-5287 to set up a consultation or if you need more information. Determining whether you have legal options is part of using the resources available to you and your child. Give your child every opportunity to thrive on their own—call today.
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