No two children with cerebral palsy are exactly the same. This is a time when suspected symptoms may become more apparent.
I was excited when Michael started to pull himself up to furniture. At the age of 18 months he was still unable to sit unassisted. Michael did well getting into a standing position with assistance of furniture, but he was unable to get down in a safe manner. When he wanted to get down, he would let himself go and do what I call the Nestea plunge. He would just fall backwards! Eventually he became a pro at falling which is a skill he still needs today. I needed to keep a constant eye on him so he would not hurt himself.
We received in-home physical and occupational therapy at 1 1/2 years of age. A physical therapist works with balance, sitting, standing, and stretching. Parallel bars were placed in my living room for a period of time – provided by the school, so Michael could practice balance and standing.
The occupational therapist works on fine motor skills including placing small objects such as buttons and beads and placing in a container. They play with many age appropriate learning toys to learn shapes, colors, puzzles, dressing, and later coloring and drawing. They can provide assistance if a child has issues with eating as well and evaluate if help is needed with speech.
When Michael was 2 1/2 he started to attend school 1/2 days. In the classroom setting, he was able to receive several hours of therapy each day. It was hard letting him go at such a young age, but he was able to receive early intervention, critical for these children.
Michael was unable to drink out of a straw. It was a strange quirk which everyone was at a loss to understand. Therapists worked and worked to teach Michael to drink out of a straw. They made contraptions, tried to demonstrate, held liquids at the end of straws for him to taste, but nothing worked. Then one day I went to pick him up at school and there he was sitting at a table with other children drinking milk out of a straw! I was flabbergasted!! The teacher was a sub and had no idea there was a problem and put it in front of him. The therapists all arrived to see this phenomenon. We had worked on this for three years and here he was calmly sipping like it was no big deal! Life is funny.
Speech therapists can work on talking, tongue, and drooling issues. It is not uncommon for a child with cp to drool. Michael was evaluated and has some minor impairments to his tongue that cause him to drool still today but he can control it and only becomes apparent when he is extremely busy or tired.
What next? Learn about the early elementary school years.