Physical Impairment Key Charactaristics
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
• 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.
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).
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.