Cerebral palsy is the most prevalent disability around the world and has an incidence of 3.3 per 1,000 8-year-old children, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Physical effects of cerebral palsy vary in each child. Some children may be unable to walk without assistance, while others may only have a slight motor impairment. Your child with cerebral palsy will benefit from attending preschool with his non-disabled peers. However, his instructors will have to implement some accommodations and modifications to ensure his success in the classroom.
Cerebral palsy is characterized by lack of muscle control. Your preschooler with cerebral palsy may display multiple disabilities in addition to his difficulties with gross motor movement. Some children possess cognitive disabilities, while others have typical intellectual development for a preschooler. Visual and hearing impairments as well as poor sense of touch can occur.
You may find that your preschooler with cerebral palsy has a difficult time keeping up at the same pace as his non-disabled peers. He may have a hard time speaking clearly, writing legibly and moving efficiently.
Activities and Lesson Plans
Expect instructors to focus on developing lesson plans that support all preschoolers to develop fine and gross motor skills as well as language and social skills. Teachers should provide fine motor skill activities by planning cutting lessons, and offering opportunities for writing, coloring, painting, gluing, weaving and tearing paper. Preschoolers with cerebral palsy should be expected to interact with their peers while engaging in free play. The instructor should encourage them to build with blocks, use dress-up clothes and look at books with their peers.
The classroom schedule should allow time for preschoolers to engage in gross motor activities to develop physical strength and cardiovascular endurance. Opportunities for running, walking, hopping, throwing, swimming, dancing and climbing should be incorporated into the day as well.
Your preschooler with cerebral palsy needs to have a plan that is uniquely designed for him to experience success in the classroom. You need to be actively involved with his teacher and specialists in drawing up a plan that allows the least restriction for him to successfully take part in all activities. An individualized preschool program ensures that your child will not be excluded from any activity due to his disability.
The plan needs to include modifications and accommodations that help him to learn alongside his peers. Advocate for your child to have access to larger modified materials for some activities or extra time to complete work. If your preschooler uses a wheelchair, he will need wider spaces throughout the classroom to maneuver. Some children may use a walker or cane, which require the instructor to move furniture around in the classroom so the child can easily move throughout the room. Kids with cerebral palsy may have spastic muscles that tighten unexpectedly. Suggest that there be a cozy and quiet place in the classroom to help your child relax and alleviate spasticity.
Your child’s instructors should include options for evaluation of concepts in lesson plans. A preschooler with cerebral palsy may not perform at the same level as his non-disabled peers or reach the same proficiency in the same amount of time. However, his progress should still be measured and tracked. Make sure his instructors document his individual performance rather than against the performance of the whole class.