Infants and toddlers with cerebral palsy are eligible to receive services under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), a federal law that mandates special services to children with disabilities. These services are provided in two very different systems.
The early intervention system
covers services from the time the child is born until the child's third birthday.
From age 3 through 22 years, the school system is responsible for providing
special education and related services. Nurses working with children who have
cerebral palsy need a working knowledge of these systems and the services available
to the population.
Regardless of their
developmental status, babies and toddlers who have been diagnosed with CP
qualify for the early intervention system because they have a diagnosed
disorder that puts them at high risk for developmental delay. Nurses who
suspect that a child has cerebral palsy can advocate for a referral to a
pediatric neurologist or other specialist to obtain the correct diagnosis.
This will facilitate the process of qualifying for early intervention services.
Each child's services in the early intervention system are then outlined
in a formal document known as the Individual Family Service Plan (IFSP),
developed jointly between the early intervention team members and the child's
Within the early intervention system, infants and toddlers with CP can benefit from a wide variety of services to address impairments in speech and language, oral motor function and feeding, fine motor function, gross motor abilities, cognitive skills, and social interactions. Many early intervention programs provide a small, family-centered group setting for social interaction, supplemented by individual therapy and a home visit component.
Typical personnel at an early intervention program include:
Parent education and role modeling are very important components of the early intervention system, since most of the youngster's development will take place in the home.
While there are a wide
variety of special education services available to children with CP, some
of the more common ones include:
Select your state and investigate assistive technologies that can potentially augment capacity by helping to compensate for disabilities.
Assistive technologies are anything that help the student:
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