Sunday, August 14, 2011

Kids with cerebral palsy

Cerebral palsy is a very common special need, especially when a birth was traumatic or premature, or there was a multiple pregnancy. In the developing world, where medical care may not be as good as in the US (and other countries), many children with cerebral palsy are released for adoption by their families. The disability has a wide range of effects--some kids are only mildly affected and can walk well; some may walk only with assistance or need wheelchairs. Although CP results from a brain injury, very often this only affects mobility and children with CP are often not intellectually affected by their special needs.

Brett is a sweet little boy who has cerebral palsy. He is three years old and lives in the country I hope to be adopting from--somewhere in Eastern Europe. He is so young still--he will be four soon. It is difficult to know what a child's true abilities are when he has been raised in an orphanage, but right now Brett is able to stand with support, and his caregivers are working with him on learning to walk.

I don't know what kind of training his caregivers have, and whether Brett receives physical therapy. But with a family, physical/occupational therapy, and good medical care, children do much better than they do in an institution. I've read several stories about kids who never walked a step in their life walking once they got home and had the love and support of a family, and appropriate therapy--sometimes within months of coming home. It's great that Brett's caretakers are at least working with him, but he could probably do even better with the help of a family. You shouldn't adopt a child with cerebral palsy unless you are comfortable with the idea that they won't be able to increase their physical abilities--Brett may always need a wheelchair, even if he does learn to walk--but there is so much potential for these kids once they are in families and have therapy.

If Brett stays in Eastern Europe, however, even though it seems like he is getting a chance to progress now, in a few short years he will end up in an institution. If he doesn't walk by then, he will not walk there. He will be put in a "lying down" room. The staff will not be available to work with him individually, so he might never get out of his bed again. He might be tied to his bed. He will lose the ability to stand up he has worked for so hard. He will probably lose the will to live. If he cannot feed himself effectively--maybe even if he can--he will probably suffer from malnutrition. Some of these kids get impossibly thin. Some come home to the US and are immediately taken to the hospital to be treated for severe malnutrition.

Brett doesn't deserve that. No child deserves that. You can help his family adopt him by donating to his fund. You could be the family that brings him home. You can support charities which help little boys and girls in his country.

And you could do nothing. But if you ignore Brett, he will still be a three-year-old boy who can't walk. Ignoring the situation won't mean he doesn't end up tied to a bed for the rest of his life once he turns five. Ignoring him won't mean he gets enough to eat. It might make your life easier. But Brett will still be a little boy in Eastern Europe who needs a family.

1 comment:

  1. Why low expeditions, ehh? No two children with the condition are the same, you know.