Physical Impairment Key Charactaristics

Cerebral Palsy

Children with cerebral palsy may have:

• very rigid limbs and limited or exaggerated movements

• difficulty in walking and moving

• either muscle weakness, stiffness, floppiness or spasms

• involuntary movements as muscles tense and relax

• difficulty talking or jerky speech

• hearing difficulties

• chewing and/or swallowing difficulties

• epilepsy

• a need for help with self-care skills

• difficulty distinguishing shapes (a problem with visual perception rather than eyesight) and may also have a squint

• learning difficulties, sometimes related to a specific activity such as reading, drawing or maths

• difficulties maintaining friendships if they cannot join in with other children's interests

• poor self-esteem.

Cystic Fibrosis

The most noticeable feature of cystic fibrosis is a persistent cough. Although not infectious, it may be embarrassing in front of other people, especially as a severe coughing attack occasionally leads to coughing up mucus or vomiting.

A child with cystic fibrosis may also suffer from:

• repeated chest infections and low resistance to all infections

• tendency to prolonged diarrhoea

• poor weight gain

• particularly salty sweat

• digestive problems

• lack or loss of energy

• frequent absences from school (sometimes prolonged).

Spina Bifida

A child with spina bifida may have:

• some incontinence problems in the early years, though these are usually under control by the age of seven

• weakness or paralysis in the lower limbs and need regular physiotherapy

• a lack of skin sensation in some parts of the body as a result of nerve damage

• difficulty sitting still and often appear fidgety and restless.

• A child with spina bifida who also has hydrocephalus may have:

• poor verbal comprehension

• difficulty understanding some non-verbal cues, such as gestures or tone of voice

• long-term visual and auditory memory difficulties

• problems with eye-hand coordination and motor planning

• great difficulty organising himself and his belongings

• some specific learning difficulties

• difficulty sustaining attention to a task.