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Some children with cerebral palsy have daily communication issues. Symptoms of cerebral palsy and certain associated conditions make it difficult for a child to talk or express themselves. Early interventions, such as sign language, speech and language therapy, and communication boards can help.
Why Children With Cerebral Palsy Have Communication Problems
Speech and language problems are common disorders of cerebral palsy. According to a study done by two physicians and published by the U.S. National Institutes of Health, “dysarthria is a barrier to effective communication for many children with neurodevelopmental disorders, including more than 50% of children with cerebral palsy.”
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
To help your child maximize daily communication, you may need to utilize a team of specialists. These include a speech pathologist, your child’s primary healthcare provider, a physiotherapist, a physical therapist, and an occupational therapist.
Each expert will work with your child in different areas to ensure the best resources are being used to improve your child’s communication skills.
For instance, a speech pathologist will help with speech articulation, how to improve listening skills, and, if needed, can teach the child sign language or how to use a communication board. A physical therapist will help the child with balance and motor skills which can help with speech.
An occupational therapist can help with developing crucial daily life skills. Communication deficits may range from mild to severe. Each child benefits from a specific group of medical professionals and communication strategies.
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 practicing breathing techniques.
Try to make home practice fun to encourage learning and provide positive reinforcement when the learned skills are performed.
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 to the medical team’s plan and participate daily in helping your child, there is an excellent chance that they will eventually learn to communicate effectively.
- Allison, K., & Hustad, K. (2018, May 15). Acoustic predictors of pediatric dysarthria in cerebral palsy. PubMed Central (PMC).
Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5963041/