There will come a point in time when your child with cerebral palsy becomes an adult. Beforehand, kids with CP have numerous different obstacles to face, especially when compared to those who are entering adulthood without the disorder. The more you know about how to help your child through this special milestone, the easier it will be when the time comes.
The Goal of Moving from Childhood to Adulthood
The most important aspect of transitioning into adulthood is making sure a younger person has access to resources that can provide secondary education information or job training and eventually, housing and living independently (if applicable). Children with cerebral palsy also need an added measure of security, including the confidence and social skills to talk with others and take advantage of opportunities.
Therefore, the journey of preparing children with cerebral palsy for adulthood generally starts around age 14, earlier than most other children. This ensures that they have ample time to gain the confidence needed and skills needed that will help them transition into adulthood more easily.
Money management is one of the biggest aspects of adulthood and the sooner your child learns about it, the easier it will be once they reach adulthood. While they’ll probably learn addition and subtraction while in elementary school, once they reach their teens, consider opening a child’s bank account for and showing them how bank deposits, withdrawals, and managing their accounts work.
Equally important, teaching all children, including those with cerebral palsy, about bill payments will help prepare them for the future. There are numerous websites online that help children learn about money and bill payments, but for children with cerebral palsy, it’s recommended to find someone who specializes in teaching children with disabilities about money management and bill payments.
Independent living for those with cerebral palsy encompasses a wide variety of scenarios, including:
- Living in a personal home
- Living in a group home or in an assisted living setting
- Living with relatives
- Living with roommates
- Income-based public housing
No matter what choice your child may make, you can start helping them learn to live independently early on. Of course, each child’s journey with cerebral palsy is different, and there are various factors that need to be considered as they can affect their living situation, including:
- Access to transportation
- The ability or inability to cook for themselves and carry out daily living tasks
- The ability to earn a living
For instance, if your child will more than likely always need assistance with meals and other daily living tasks, living with caregivers, relatives, or in an assisted living home is a better option than them living in their own personal home. This applies to children with severe cerebral palsy, but it doesn’t mean they cannot live independently, as long as they help along with the way whether it’s the form of personal assistants, cooks, maids, and help with other tasks.
On the other hand, if the child can perform daily tasks and has access to transportation and a way to earn money, their own personal home can be an option.
Helping your child learn the skills needed to live independently early on will help them boost their confidence and provide them with an overall sense of well-being regardless of where they live. You can start now by allowing your child do as much as possible on his/her own.
A common myth is that children with cerebral palsy will never be able to make enough money in adulthood to sustain themselves, which is absolutely untrue. In fact, with Internet access, more and more people with disabilities are able to secure employment at home, and numerous employers offer positions that take into consideration a person’s disability.
Start early by instilling a good work ethic in your child, whether it be making sure they complete home chores or school assignments. The Centers for Independent Living (CIL) offers boundless resources for people with disabilities to help them make money and become independent, including:
- Job training
- Special needs scholarships for college
- Employment opportunities and referral services
- Counseling and emotional support
If for any reason your child is unable to work or find employment, there are many government resources that can still help them achieve independence, including social security disability insurance (SSDI), the food stamp program, medical insurance, and rental assistance.