As a parent, hearing that your child has any sort of life-changing condition can be a shock and may cause you to fear for your son or daughter’s future, especially when the condition is one that has to do with an organ as delicate as the brain. One of the most common conditions in children that has to do with the brain is cerebral palsy. For many parents whose child is diagnosed with this condition, the first question that comes to mind is, “What is cerebral palsy?” Basically, it is a weakness or damage to the brain that makes it difficult for a person to use their muscles. The severity of the condition varies from person to person. The good news is that the condition does not worsen over time.
To help better understand what your child is going through, here are a few signs and symptoms.
- Delay in motor development – Because the brain is the primary organ affected by this condition, it is not uncommon for a child to have slower motor development. This means your child may have a more difficult time learning how to push himself or herself up, sit up on their own or crawl around.
- Varied muscle tones – Your child may have muscles that feel either too stiff or too soft. This depends on the type and location of muscles affected by the condition. When you pick up your baby, you can sometimes see or feel this, as your child’s legs or hands can tense up or feel extra floppy.
- Gait or walking disorder – The way your child walks as they learn to use their legs can also vary from that of a child with normal muscle function. This can usually be seen if your child favors one side of their body over the other.
- Swallowing disorders – Some children with this condition have a difficult time sucking, swallowing or eating. This can lead to excessive drooling in children because they are unable to control the functions of their mouths, as healthy children can.
- Difficulty with motor coordination – As your child learns how to manage their daily world, there are some tasks that they may have difficulty with, such as learning how to speak or learning how to pick things up.
While the way each of these signs and symptoms presents itself varies from person to person, it is important to know what they are to better understand this condition and how it affects your child.