By Isabella Bullock
March is Cerebral Palsy Awareness Month. Cerebral palsy (CP) is a group of disorders that affect a person’s ability to move and maintain balance and posture. According to the CDC, CP is the most common motor disability in childhood. Cerebral palsy is caused by abnormal brain development or damage to the developing brain. This usually happens before a child is born, but it can occur at birth or in early infancy. In many cases, the cause is not known.
Resources for Children with Cerebral Palsy
Growing up as a child with cerebral palsy, there were tons of treatment options, resources and services for support of my physical, academic and social well-being. There was even support groups for my family members for having a child/sibling with a disability. Fast forward to adulthood: these once readily available services do not exist. Even now, when you Google cerebral palsy, most of the images populated are images children with CP. The lack of services and representation for adults with CP gives the impression that children with CP do not grow up to be adults with CP. This could not be further from the truth.
Lack of Resources for Adults Living with Cerebral Palsy
From my experience, being an adult with CP has more complex challenges, such as post-secondary (life after K-12 schooling) transition, development of independent living skills, obtaining employment, locating accessible housing and personal care supports, all while maintaining peer and intimate relationships. These are all challenges that can be worked through but support may be needed along the way.
How We Can Help Adults with CP
How do we move forward in supporting adults with CP? To start, there needs to be more resources to support post-secondary transition and community-based living. There also needs to be more research done on adults with CP and an overhaul of the representation of cerebral palsy and who it impacts. While CP originally occurs during early childhood, those children grow up to be adults with CP and need just as much support.