A cerebral palsy diagnosis impacts the whole family. Coming to terms with the emotions that come with a CP diagnosis can be very challenging, even for the most mentally and emotionally healthy person.

Cerebral Palsy Diagnosis & Family Impact

  1. Family Counseling
  • Make sure you have the support you need during this challenging time. You may benefit from counseling individually, as a couple, or as a family.
  • For some this may be your first time feeling that you need some type of guide to help work through your feelings or problems.
  1. There is No Shame in Seeking Help
  • As the parent or caregiver, you have to make sure you maintain your emotional, physical, mental, and spiritual health. The better care you take of yourself, the more energy and strength you will have for your child.
  1. Sibling Support
  • The impact of having a sibling with a disability changes depending on the individual, their personality and developmental age.
  • For many, the experience is a positive, enriching one that teaches them to accept all people as they are.
  • Others may feel bitterness and resentment towards their parents or their sibling with CP. They may feel jealous, neglected, or rejected as they see their parents’ attention and energy focused on the child with special needs.
  • It is common for siblings to go back and forth between feeling positive and negative about their sibling.
  • It is important to take the time to talk openly with your children about their sibling who has CP. Explain CP as best you can and in terms the child can understand.
  • They may need professional help processing these big feelings and their conflicting emotions of both loving their sibling and maybe also feeling annoyed or resentful of them and their disability.
  • Parents often report that no matter what issues siblings may have at home with their brother or sister with special needs, outside of the home they are normally loyal to their sibling and do their best to defend and protect them.
  • The experience and knowledge gained by having a sibling with special needs also seems to make children more accepting and appreciative of differences. They tend to be more aware of the challenges others may be going through. Often they will surprise adults with their wisdom, insight and empathy.
  1. Respite Care & Resources
  • For a parent or guardian, caring for a child with CP can be physically and mentally exhausting. Respite care allows for a registered caregiver, or in some states a family member, to come into your home and care for the child with CP.
  • Respite care offers a great opportunity for families to get a full night’s rest, couples date night, or whatever you may need to recharge.
  1. Using this service does not imply that you are unable to care for your child’s needs.
  • It means that you see, that in order to continue caring for your child, you must keep yourself healthy and rested.
  • The amount of respite care hours change with each state and, in some instances, what your medical insurance provider allows.

For more information, download our free cerebral palsy tool kit.