The coronavirus epidemic is causing widespread panic and a lot of real and serious infections. While many people will only develop a mild illness or even no symptoms at all after contracting COVID-19, too many will become severely ill. The disease can even be life-threatening, and certain people are at a greater risk. This includes people with certain medical conditions, like cerebral palsy. Get the facts and know how to protect your children from infection and all the ripple effects of the pandemic.
COVID-19 causes severe illness, including life-threatening pneumonia, in some people who contract it. Anyone can become this sick, but those with the highest risk have compromised immune systems, are elderly, or have chronic health conditions.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has listed specific conditions of concern during this pandemic. One of these is anyone with a neurological or neurodevelopmental condition, which includes cerebral palsy. It also includes epilepsy, a common co-occurring condition with cerebral palsy.
How to Protect Your Child
Anyone who is in a high-risk group is encouraged to stay home in a self-quarantine until further notice. If you have a child with cerebral palsy, they need to stay home and everyone else in the home should only go out for necessities, like groceries. When outside, stay at least six feet away from others.
When you do come back in the house, wash your hands thoroughly and disinfect anything you’re bringing in. Even while staying in, it’s important to take steps to continue good hygiene: wash hands frequently, avoid touching your face, and disinfect surfaces used often, like doorknobs and light switches.
If you have particular concerns about your child’s health or anyone in the home has coronavirus symptoms—coughing, fever, and shortness of breath—call your doctor. Unless there is an emergency, it’s best to call first and find out what to do next. Also call your child’s doctor before going in for any appointments or treatment. They may be postponed until a safer time.
How School Closures Impact Students with Cerebral Palsy
In addition to the risk to your child’s health, the COVID-19 pandemic is causing a potential special education crisis. Most schools are closed, and your child may fall behind in learning and getting services. It’s important to know your child’s rights under the law:
- Schools must determine if there are reasonable ways to continue services for your child, such as online, and provide them if possible.
- Schools are not required to provide distance learning if it is not feasible.
- If your child does not continue to receive services during the shutdown, their IEP (Individualized Education Plan) team must determine if services should be extended upon return to school.
Whether your school is offering students online learning during the outbreak or not, your child is likely to fall behind at home. It is important that you advocate for their rights to a free and appropriate education. Keep your child safe at home, provide what home education you can, and then fight to get them back on track when this is all over.