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.
As your child approaches the teen years and young adulthood, be aware of his or her changing needs.
- 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 these relationships.
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.
Planning for adulthood
Preparing your child for adulthood takes careful planning. It also requires patience and resourcefulness on your part.
- Encourage independent living skills. A time may come when you or other family members can no longer assist your child in all areas.
- Plan for an adult's current and future health care needs. Complications of cerebral palsy may develop and affect quality of life. Also, some forms of CP are more severe and require special assistance.
- Use occupational therapy and similar programs that may be helpful. Most adults with CP are employed, despite moderate to severe physical disability. Laws protect the rights of disabled people to find and hold employment (among other rights). Learn about the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 at www.ada.gov.
Older adults with CP may need extra help preparing for retirement.