Communication is an important part of daily life for any family. Some children with cerebral palsy have no problems talking and expressing wants and needs. However, if your child has issues with communications, there are a number of resources available and tips you can learn to teach them how properly express themselves.The Importance of Early Intervention
Physicians who specialize in cerebral palsy say that as soon as you can, it’s important to have your child tested for hearing, vision, and other communication aspects. The sooner you can get your child tested, the easier intervention techniques will be if needed.
Intervention typically begins when the baby turns 1 or 2, although this can vary according to your child’s individual needs. It typically consists of focusing on things that your child needs help with, in order to communicate more effectively. For instance, some children will need to learn sign language and other forms of communication due to severe hearing problems, whereas others may need to work on speech therapy due to swallowing issues or other medical problems.
Why Children With Cerebral Palsy Have Communication Problems
Speech and language problems are common disorders of cerebral palsy. According to the Spastic Children’s Association of Selangor & Federal Territory (SCASFT), up to 30% of all children with cerebral palsy will have dysarthria, meaning a motor speech disorder of some kind. Dysarthria generally occurs due to the following factors:
- Weak respiratory control
- Laryngeal dysfunction
- Velopharyngeal dysfunction
- Oral articulation problems
- Oral sensory disturbances
Treatment Options to Help Your Child Communicate Better
In order to help your child fully with daily communication, you may need to utilize a team of specialists, including a speech pathologist, your child’s physician, a physiotherapist, physical therapist, and an occupational therapist. Each expert will work with your child in different areas to ensure the best chances of success. Of course, this will depend on how mild or severe the child’s speech disorder is. Some children may only need speech therapy, whereas others may need a team of medical professionals.
For instance, a speech pathologist help with speech articulation, improving listening skills, and if needed, teaching the child sign language and/or how to use a communication board. A physical therapist will help the child with balance and motor skills which can help with speech, and an occupational therapist can help with developing important daily life skills.
How You Can Help Your Child at Home
Working with your child at home and in connection with a team of medical professionals is highly recommended, as it allows your child to practice what’s learned in therapy. Depending on your child’s unique needs, home therapy may include helping your child practice saying sentences, forming correct facial techniques when practicing words, practicing sign language, and more.
Other forms of home practice may include:
- Practicing breathing techniques
- Positive reinforcement
- Make learning as fun as possible
Keep in mind that patience is the key while teaching your child daily communication. There may be many days of frustration, but if you stick the medical team’s plan and participate daily in helping your child, there is a great chance that he/she will eventually learn to effectively communicate.