Helping with daily routines
Each person with CP
has unique strengths and areas of difficulty. But most people who have CP need
ongoing help with:
- Using the toilet. Some people who have
CP have poor bladder control or problems that make using a
toilet difficult. Special
undergarments and training by an
occupational therapist may help.
- Bowel elimination. People who have CP often become
constipated, making stools difficult to pass. For information about
preventing and treating constipation, see the topic
Constipation, Age 11 and Younger or
Constipation, Age 12 and Older.
- Dressing. Provide clothing and shoes that are easy to put on and
take off, such as those that zip or button in the front or that
have large buttons, ties, or Velcro fasteners.
- Speaking. Problems with jaw and mouth muscles, and also hearing loss, can make it difficult to form words.
Speaking slowly and reading with your child often are examples of ways to help
your child communicate.
- Keeping active. Your child
needs to move his or her limbs to help keep muscles strong and joints flexible.
Have him or her move and play as much as possible. Involve other family members
too. Ask the doctor, physical therapist, or other parents for
- Safety. People who have CP are prone to falls and other
accidents, especially if they have
seizures. You can take safety measures at
home—such as having sturdy furniture—to help
your child avoid accidents. Use common sense and care around sharp
objects. And never leave a person who has CP alone while he or she is bathing.
Feeding and grooming
- Feeding and eating. Children with CP may have problems being able to chew, suck, and swallow. Using special utensils and serving soft foods may help. A registered dietitian can suggest ways to help your child eat healthy foods and make food easier to chew and swallow. A person with severe CP may need a feeding tube in order to eat.
- Bathing and grooming. People who have CP who do not have control of
their hands or arms usually cannot groom themselves. Some children can be
taught some self-grooming with practice.
Dental and skin care
- Dental care. CP can cause problems with the jaw muscles, teeth, mouth, and tongue. And it can make it hard to use a toothbrush. Regular cleanings and special equipment, such as a teeth-cleaning
water spray, can help.
- Skin care.
Drooling can cause skin irritation around
the chin, mouth, and chest. You can help protect your child's skin by blotting rather than wiping drool, using cloths
to cover the chest, and applying lotions or cornstarch to areas that get irritated.
child approaches the teen years and young adulthood, be aware of his or her
- Give teens and adults with CP plenty of
emotional support and understanding. Family members
and friends can help them deal with the daily
challenges of having CP.
- Gradually prepare your child for
independent living. Usually teens have learned to use
their talents and strengths. But they may need extra help and encouragement to
prepare for added expectations and responsibilities.
- Talk to your teen about intimate relationships. Teens and
young adults with CP may need more guidance than other people their age in developing
Learn to change your routines as your child with CP grows and develops. For example,
you may not be able to continue caring for a severely affected child who is
growing tall and heavy. Try to plan ahead for the time when your
grown child with CP is not under your care.