In March, Adelante and people around the world pause to celebrate Cerebral Palsy Awareness Month. Many of our clients have a diagnosis of CP, as it is often referred to. It is the most common childhood motor disability. Therefore, it is important to raise awareness on CP and to know how to support people who have this disability.

Interesting Facts About Cerebral Palsy

First, did you know over 17 million people worldwide have cerebral palsy? To illustrate, that’s almost the whole population of the Netherlands! One million Americans live with this particular disability. Approximately 1 in 323 children have cerebral palsy. In fact, every hour a baby is born with cerebral palsy in the United States. In detail, 40% are born prematurely and 60% at full term.

There are Several Different Types of Cerebral Palsy

A man with cerebral palsy in a wheelchair.

There a multiple types of CP. In general, they are broken down to describe the resulting motor skills or movement issues, or the affected body parts. The most common form is spastic cerebral palsy, which affects 75-80% of people who have cerebral palsy. This causes muscles to be stiff in certain parts of the body. Most of the general public recognizes this type of cerebral palsy, wherein the person often has exaggerated or jerky movements.

In contrast, athetoid cerebral palsy affects less than 3% of people with CP. This lesser-known type of cerebral palsy is characterized with loose muscles. This type of CP causes issues with involuntary movement in the face, torso, and limbs. Learn more about the other types of CP.

Etiquette Tips for Interacting with People with CP & Other Disabilities

Here are some wonderful tips for working with or interacting with people with disabilities, courtesy of Abilities.org:

  • Treat adults as adults, and talk to them as adults.
  • Listen attentively, especially if they have trouble speaking.
  • If you wish to offer help, wait until it is accepted.
  • Treat assistive devices as personal property, because they are. Do not lean on them without the owner’s permission.
  • Yes, it’s okay to use phrases like “I’ve got to run,” or “see you later.”

Support Helps People with Cerebral Palsy to Thrive

For younger people or children with CP, support groups that provide social interaction can be important for personal growth. For example, playgroups, summer camps, and Special Olympics activities can all be beneficial. They help children with disabilities gain confidence and independence. It also helps people to spend time with others who have similar experiences.

Adelante has offered support services for people with disabilities, including CP for over four decades in New Mexico. For example, people with cerebral palsy can take part in Adelante’s Community Options day programs, live in our Supported Living homes to receive 24/7 care, or participate in Adelante’s Independent Living program to help them live successfully in their own apartment or make strides toward doing so. People who have CP are also less likely to have employment opportunities. Adelante can also work to connect people with disabilities to jobs in the community through our EmployAbility program.

Additionally, for adults with cerebral palsy, studies show they participate less in social interactions. To make a difference, if you meet or know someone who has CP, consider spending time with them and including them in group activities. Getting to know them better is great for both you and them. Of course, this holds true for all people with disabilities. Inclusion is important and that goes beyond any awareness month.