Cerebral Palsy and Bad Teachers

Any parent of a child with a disability will tell you that teachers are either saving graces without whom nothing would be possible, or a parent’s worst nightmare who fails to adapt to the needs of teaching a child who is differently abled.

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A few weeks ago, a particular case went viral. Rosa Johnson is a student with severe cerebral palsy that leaves her little control of her body. Rosa’s mother Doreen had sent her to a school for students with special needs near their home in Ann Arbor, MI, where Doreen believed her daughter would be getting the best care available. However, in early November 2017, Doreen received a message from her daughter’s teacher that read “She won’t be quiet!!!!” accompanied by an image of Rosa’s mouth taped shut with blue painter’s tape. Doreen immediately looked for legal counsel and soon learned that Rosa had also been subject to other instances of abuse and neglect, including having been locked in a closet and having been slapped by a school bus driver.

As far as the US has come in our care of the physically and cognitively disabled, there are still lots of areas for improvement, and some cases continue to fall through the cracks. Lucky, the advent of the smartphone has made it easier for classmates and other adults to capture evidence of abuse, but that in and of itself won’t fix the problem. In the event that you or a loved one finds yourself in a situation where you have to investigate the way an adult or superior is treating a subordinate or student with special needs inappropriately, there are a couple of best practices you can follow.

Firstly, as Doreen did, immediately seek legal counsel. For a case as egregious as Doreen and Rosa’s, lawyers are likely to take it on pro-bono and help you find restorative justice and ensure that all liable parties are held accountable for their actions and missteps.

You can also start to collect “evidence” that may prove useful in establishing a pattern of abuse and neglect. Anyone who has spent time watching Law and Order will well know the importance of having documentation, pictures, doctors’ reports, etc., that provide concrete proof that something was amiss in the school. As tedious and uncomfortable as it may be, go back through your emails, texts, smartphone pictures, and conversations with friends.

Even if you can’t win in state or federal court, you can often win in the court of public opinion. With the blessing of your legal counsel, you can write about what happened and publish it on social media, on your blog, or try to get your story to run in a newspaper or magazine. Perhaps others will come forward with similar stories and you can spare another family the heartache and trouble that you’ve had to endure. 

Caring For a Child With Cerebral Palsy

Alan RasofCaring for a child who is diagnosed with a disability is never easy, but it is important for you to help your child reach their maximum potential and live the best quality of life possible.

For cerebral palsy in particular, helping your child reach their goals depends on the level of cerebral palsy he or she has, and may require an extra set of hands from professionals including physical therapists, physicians, educators, nurses, psychologist, and social workers. Together, you as a parent and a team of professionals can work side-by-side to resolve issues that may revolve around social and emotional development, education, nutrition, mobility, and communication

According to an article published on Care.com, professionals can offer a plethora of services to help your child grow mentally and strive to reach for his or her physical goals. Speech therapists in particular offer many valuable communication services and can:

“Help through oral motor work toAlan Rasof enhance sucking, eating, etc. This work will facilitate communication, both through facial and verbal means, making speech as intelligible as possible. If lack of muscle control makes speech too difficult, speech therapists may help teach use of an augmentative communication device or sign language,” (Caring for a Child With Cerebral Palsy – Advice for Families and Caregivers).

For children living with cerebral palsy, working on muscle movement in the mouth is one of the most important aspects of physical therapy that will help them to communicate more effectively and voice concerns they have or pain they may be in.

Physical therapy is one of the most beneficial commitments a child with cerebral palsy can do to help them with various movement and abilities. Physical therapy can not only aid in muscle strengthening and independence in movement, but they can help ease pain and increase comfort. Physical therapist work with the body to stretch muscles that are tight and stiff, strengthen weak muscles, and help your child to gradually start walking, using a wheelchair, or standing – depending on their needs.

For more information on how you can help care for a child with cerebral palsy, please readthis article published in Care.com, that will also give advice on how to improve nutrition for a child living with cerebral palsy.