Sunday, April 10th, 2011, by Natan Gendelman 

When a child is diagnosed with cerebral palsy or any other neurological disorder, people often accept that there will be certain things which he can and cannot do. Yet, what we often forget is that that this is a child which we are labeling; a child who possess his own character, will, dreams, opinions and personality.  Each person thinks, communicates and makes choices in his own unique way, and that is something that both the medical and therapeutic worlds cannot predict. In fact, I think that trying to do so would be a huge, grave mistake, and I apologize to those who do not think this way.

Every child is different

Now, I’m not trying to offending anybody here. However, a lot of times we see a child’s cerebral palsy or disorder first, and the child himself second. How does this change anything, you may ask? Well, if you asked a therapist if they have seen two children with the exact same condition,the answer would be no. That is because every person experiences life in different ways and different forms, meaning that one child’s cerebral palsy will look completely different from the condition of another child.

For this reason we need to remember that there is no template, no cookie cutter, and no pure recipe for treatment which can be applied to every child. Instead what we have to do is learn from each child as much as he can learn from us. Each concept or treatment has to be adapted to his own needs first, and to his condition second. Any minor cerebral palsy can become severe if it is not treated properly through his lifetime, because it is important to adjust to the individual changes taking place with the child himself, along with his growth and development.

Creating connections

With this in mind, I find it funny how we’re always getting stuck on the individual names of the therapies during this process. When we hear about physio, we think that it just treats gross motor skills. Occupational therapy deals with fine motor skills and daily tasks, while speech language therapy only comes into play when working on speech and communication. In reality though, can we teach a child how to move without communicating with him? We can’t, so to be successful in teaching a child, we first have to try our best to connect with him on his level.

When I work with kids, I try and understand where he is coming from, what he is and is not willing to do, and the ways in which he does things. Remember, a child’s movement and function comes from the brain. So if we don’t develop the brain, we cannot develop his function. Developing the brain, or the child’s cognitive function means that when we talk to him, we are essentially teaching him important life skills. In turn, this will affect his intelligence and thereby improve his motor and sensorial function.

In adapting treatment to the child’s needs first and his condition second, you will discover just how successful he can be as he grows closer to achieving independence in his daily life.

Do you have any questions about this article? If you need any help or advice, feel free to drop me an email at natan@enabledkids.ca. Thanks, and I look forward to hearing from you!

This article was featured on Pediastaff’s blog. Thanks guys!

 

About the author

Natan Gendelman wrote 59 articles on this blog.

Natan Gendelman is licensed as a physical therapist in Russia and Israel. After moving to Canada, he was certified as a kinesiologist and osteopathy manual practitioner. Originally from the former Soviet Union, Natan has more than 20 years of experience providing rehabilitation and treatment for conditions such as cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, pediatric stroke, childhood brain injury and autism. He is the founder and director of Health in Motion Rehabilitation, whose main objective is to teach their patients the independence necessary for success in their daily lives.

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