Cerebral Palsy Speech and Language Therapy

Cerebral Palsy Speech and Language Therapy

Helping your Child Achieve their Full Potential: Therapists and Speech Pathologists

In addition to the challenges with co-ordination of the limbs and other parts of the body, many children with CP also struggle with communication. Speech therapists and speech pathologists with a particular focus on children with CP can analyze their condition and determine what the most effective treatment will be for the individual child. A significant number of children with speaking challenges also have difficulty eating and swallowing. Such therapists may work in conjunction with occupational and physical therapists to help the child achieve more control of the muscles necessary for these essential actions. In addition to educating the child and working on exercises with them, a speech pathologist may also suggest appropriate communication aids that can either supplement or replace speech.

Speech problems are often the result of weak respiratory control from abnormal muscle development, dysfunction of the soft palate, and disorders that result from abnormal oral-facial structure development and control. While a child may also have related intellectual or cognitive problems, for many children, the physical challenges of cerebral palsy make it difficult for them to engage in some activities necessary for the healthy development of communication skills. Thus, physical and occupational therapists, speech therapists, nurses, doctors, teachers, parents, other children all play a part in helping a child with CP develop to their full potential. As with any child, no single influence will be enough to help them mature into happy and secure adults. Speech therapy is typically only one very important piece in a larger puzzle.

Communication Challenges may Lead to Frustration

Learning to speak does not occur in isolation from other activities. Children develop vocabulary and begin to comprehend syntax through interaction with the world around them. When physical difficulties make such interaction less robust, a child's ability to develop communication skills may suffer. This may have nothing to do with their intellectual ability and their lack of ability to communicate may lead to intense frustration. Children may benefit from picture boards or other communication devices that allow them to point to make their desires known. For school-age children or older persons with CP, there are a large number of augmentative communication devices, including shorthand typing programs and computer-assisted speech devices. A speech-language therapist can offer valuable advice on the types of equipment available.

The therapy, medical attention and education that your child receives must all work together. Depending on the type of injury that your child suffered and how their condition manifests, your child's communication ability may improve dramatically. A speech therapist's goal will be to maximize your child's ability to communicate. If this involves computer assisted technology, your therapist and other experts will offer a detailed overview of the many possibilities appropriate for your son or daughter.