Tag Archives: Cerebral Palsy

Teaching pupils with Cerebral Palsy

  • Children who find it difficult to communicate may express their frustration in bad temper or aggressive behaviour.  This may mean keeping a note of what leads up to the bad behaviour; in other words, trying to establish the triggers.
  • Try to keep the classrooms structured and keep the child aware of the pattern of the day – you might use a picture timeline.
  • Have a de-stressing area and teach child what to do if he/she feels angry and frustrated.
  • Try to seat the child in an area of low distraction at least for some of the time.  This could be made particularly attractive and could be made available to the whole class as an area where you go as a reward for hard work and good behaviour.
  • Consult a physiotherapist or occupational therapist as to correct seating for the child.
  • Allow him/her more space at a table as he/she will fidget more and this is likely to be annoying to those seated close.
  • Lighting can affect some children with cerebral palsy.  They may need to be seated in front of a light source so that there is no glare.
  • Some children with cerebral palsy have poor memories.  They may have short concentration span and difficulty in retaining new vocabulary.  They may learn better from visual stimuli so it is useful to use picture clues for the main points of the lesson.
  • Use reinforcement regularly and from lesson to lesson recalling previously learnt points.
  • Chalk and talk is not the best way for children with cerebral palsy to learn.  They learn best from sensual experiences, games and pictorial worksheets.
  • Mindmaps are good, as are songs and rhymes.
  • Children with cerebral palsy can have difficulty with spatial awareness.  As well as getting in other people’s way it can cause problems with copying from the blackboard.   If possible, get children to copy from paper with enlarged print and/or reduce the amount of writing necessary by using fill the blank activities, joining phrases, points etc.


This condition is a weakness of the muscles used for speaking.

What to look for:

The child might speak in a whisper, have slurred speech or appear to be talking through his nose.  There may also be other physical problems related to their being unable to control their muscle movement. Children with cerebral palsy often have dysarthia.

Teaching Strategies

People who can help: SENCO/Resource Teacher; Speech/Language Therapist


Further Information


Cerebral Palsy – an introduction

Basic Facts

Cerebral palsy is a condition affecting muscle control and movement.  It affects around 1 in 400 children in the UK, and is caused by an injury to the brain before, during or after birth, such as a lack of oxygen to the brain or an infection during pregnancy.  It is not progressive, and a range of therapies can help people with cerebral palsy to lead more independent and happier lives, but there is no known cure.  Children with cerebral palsy will usually receive treatment from a range of professionals in a multi-disciplinary team.  The incidence of cerebral palsy is not related to social background or to ethnic grouping.

Types of Cerebral Palsy

There are three main types of cerebral palsy:

  • Spastic cerebral palsy – this is the most common form of cerebral palsy and affects more than 75% of people with cerebral palsy.  Spastic refers to the characteristic tightness (hypertonia) of the muscle and leads to a more limited range of movement.  The impact of this varies between individuals so that different parts of the body can be affected.
  • Dyskinetic cerebral palsy – in around 15% of cases – here the muscle tone switches from loose (hypotonia) to tight (hypertonia) with twisting, rhythmic movements. Speech can be difficult to understand due to the individual’s difficulty in controlling the organs of speech (tongue, lungs, vocal chords)
  • Ataxic cerebral palsy –  the least common form, present in just 4 or 5% of cases – is associated with a difficulty in activating the correct muscle pattern, leading to difficulty with balance and spatial awareness.

Many people with cerebral palsy have a mixture of these types and no two people with the condition are affected in exactly the same way.

Cerebral palsy is also often associated with other co-morbid conditions.  For instance, in 45% of cases, there is a learning disability with can range from mild to severe.  There are also often associated problems with motor control and musculoskeletal problems.

Recent research has also suggested that people with cerebral palsy experience secondary ageing earlier than other people who do not have cerebral palsy.  This can mean more pain and discomfort, more muscle spasms, osteoarthritis, poor motor control and joint problems and increased back pain.

Further Information

www.scope.org.uk – a great website with lots of very useful information on Cerebral Palsy

Related Articles on SCoTENS

Case Studies
Teaching Strategies


Case Study: Cerebral palsy

Image of Child with dogRachel is 10. She has cerebral palsy. She has a twin brother who is unaffected. She uses a walking frame but still needs the help of an adult. She has bladder and bowel control but because she can’t stand unaided, needs help with toileting. Rachel’s speech is also affected and she has poor fine motor skills making her very slow to complete written work. He r maths work is also extremely weak. She is a very bubbly happy child and is very popular with her peers.

As a result of her problems with fine motor skills she has been given an Alpha Smart word processor which allows her to type up work. Although her typing speed is still slow, it is easier for her to type than to try to form letters with a pencil.

Image of Children playing ball Rachel wants to be part of all the class activities and, using her walking frame moves around the playground quite freely. She always takes part in P.E. using her frame if it is a team game such as rounders. If the class is doing activities which Rachel cannot do, her classroom assistant will work with her to improve her skills, e.g. throwing and catching different sized balls from a seated position.