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Disabled Child - Cerebral Palsy Compensation Claim

Having a disabled child is always a surprise - and not a happy one. Everyone expects their child will be normal and when signs of disability show up, parents and families can be devastated. The biggest question, besides "Why did this happen?" is "What should we do?" The second question is at least positive because it implies that the family is choosing to move forward with this and is making decisions around dealing with the events that have happened and accepting that the child will need something done.

Parents need to make decisions about the practicality of dealing with the disabled child. If the child is to be wheelchair bound most of the time, the house needs to easily manage the wheelchair. This means no steps or stairs to have to get through and childproofing the house so that the child in a chair can't get into things that are higher up, such as higher shelves and kitchen surfaces. It means the child has a room on the main floor or that you move in order to have a single level house. A ramp may need to be build into your home entry so the child can get into or out of the house. You may need to get a special van that accommodates a wheel chair or push chair.

The rest of the children in the family need to be told about the disability and an explanation of the cause and nature of the disability needs to be given. For example, if the child has cerebral palsy, the children can be told that their sibling suffered an injury to their brain and that they will not be able to move or speak the way others do. If the child has spina bifida, on the other hand, the children should know that there was an injury to the spinal cord resulting in leg paralysis and that nothing else is wrong. Other disabilities, such as developmental delay, need to be explained to the other kids at home; they need to be told that the affected child has problems thinking and speaking but that they may look and ambulate normally (they may or may not have deficits in these areas).

Families need to bind together and seek family therapy that might or might not include the affected child. They need the time and space to discuss their fears, their worries and their frustration around having everything be around the disabled child, who will take up more of their parent's time than the other kids will. This can create ill will between the healthy child and the sick child. It can also create guilt among the parents, who know they are spending more time dealing with the disabled child as they are with the healthy child or children. This can be talked about on a regular basis with a therapist or counsellor who is trained to help families or individuals deal with disabilities.

Support groups exist, set up by individual organizations or children's hospitals, which put families with disabilities together. It can help families just entering into the disability arena that can learn coping skills from families who have dealt with a disabled child for a long time. This can make families or parents feel better about their feelings and learn special skills that can be taught only by other families that have dealt with the same thing. The connections made in support groups for disabled children can be very meaningful and lifelong.

The parents and family need to maintain as normal a life as possible when they have a disabled child in their midst. Kids, including the disabled one, need to go to school, do homework, and play inside and outside whenever needed. The playground outside should be able to accommodate all children, including the disabled child. Families need to eat dinner around the table, making an effort to include all the children of the family. The family still needs to get out for activities every once in a while, even if it means that the disabled child isn't involved in these activities.

The family should be included in the therapy of the disabled child. Almost all disabled children need some kind of physical, occupational, or speech therapy and sometimes go to all three kinds of therapy. Both parents and siblings should be aware of what’s going on in the affected child's therapy and should participate in whatever "homework" has been given to the child. It could involve range of motion exercises or strengthening exercises in which a "buddy" is needed to spur the child along to perform the appropriate exercises or help with doing the range of motion exercises by themselves.

Whenever possible, a positive attitude needs to be maintained when dealing with a disabled child. Having a disabled child can feel depressing at times with few positive changes seen. Families need to focus on having a positive attitude, focusing on the positive things that are seen each day. In the case of cerebral palsy, the incident that caused the disease is over with so that the family can expect a gradual increase in the child's progress. If, on the other hand, the disability is multiple sclerosis, the family may have to come to the realization that the child is likely to get worse and may die of the disease. This takes a special family to work with the child, love the child and be with the child when death is the ultimate end of the story.

Some people believe it takes a special family to deal with a child with disabilities. Unfortunately, having a disabled child is not isolated to "special families" but comes to average and ordinary families as well. These families need to rise up and show their ability to cope with and deal with having a disabled child. It is the attitude of the family that makes the most difference in how the affected child learns to cope with his or her disease and learns to become an effective, verbal, and social person of the future.

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The author of the substantive medical writing on this website is Dr. Christine Traxler MD whose biography can be read here