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Early Intervention Speech Therapy

Learning about Cerebral Palsy

Published March 19, 2013 9:08 AM by Stephanie Bruno-Dowling
Over the next few months I am going to begin researching and exploring a variety of disorders and disabilities we commonly see within the Early Intervention population. Almost like a refresher course for those therapists who graduated before the year 2000, myself included! Today's focus will be on Cerebral Palsy, what it is and the facts surrounding it.

Over the past 15 years or so I have worked with many children whose speech and language production had been affected by Cerebral Palsy. Although each of these children had been given a diagnosis of CP, their individual needs were unique. As therapists it is our duty to assess the needs of these children and determine exactly what type of communication-based interventions they require. However, this is not always a simple task and as noted on the MY CHILD at Cerebral website, "Every case of cerebral palsy is unique to the individual. One person may have total paralysis and require constant care, while another with partial paralysis might have slight movement tremors but require little assistance".

As therapists we know this to be true. I have worked with children diagnosed with CP who were non-verbal, as well as children who were able to say a handful of words and use sign and pictures to communicate. I have also worked with children with the same diagnosis who can speak in 4-6 word sentences spontaneously and independently yet struggle with the overall clarity and quality of their speech. For each child, the therapeutic goals and strategies were different, as was their rate of progress and level of success.

According to the Cerebral Palsy Source, "Cerebral palsy currently affects 764,000 Americans and is diagnosed in approximately 8,000 babies and infants each year". In addition, CP "is a condition and although there is no cure, it is not progressive, as brain damage does not get worse over time. Secondary factors, such as muscle stiffness, can become more severe as the patient ages". The website lists the various types of CP and detailed information about each one - an excellent resource for those interested in learning more about this condition.

The website also notes the important fact that "cerebral palsy is preventable. Measures of prevention are increasingly possible today. Tests and prenatal care can prepare a woman and alert her when possible causes arise". This is obviously a very important piece of information for young woman and expectant mothers. To learn more about this, visit the Cerebral Palsy Source website.


Join me next week as I explore the various ways speech articulation

as well as language development can be impacted by a CP diagnosis.


This week I am exploring feeding issues found with children diagnosed with cerebral palsy. The information

April 9, 2013 8:52 AM

As I began my search for helpful information regarding cerebral palsy and how it affects feeding and

April 2, 2013 8:27 AM

This week I am continuing my look at the condition of Cerebral Palsy (CP). Last week's post discussed

March 26, 2013 9:18 AM

Can you talk about feeding and oral-motor skills related to different types of cerbral palsy. Espically more severely spastic kiddo's. thanks!

Emily March 21, 2013 8:59 AM

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About this Blog

    Stephanie Bruno Dowling, M.S. CCC-SLP
    Occupation: Speech-Language Pathologist
    Setting: Early Intervention in Delaware County, PA
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