Wondering what the best activities for kids with cerebral palsy are? Well, look no further!
Cerebral palsy affects each individual differently. Some children may have only upper body function while others are affected in their lower body, right side, left side, or the entire body.
The point is, you might think that cerebral palsy prevents your child from being able to do what all the other kids are doing, but it doesn’t have to.
Your child just has to learn how to adjust the activity to match their abilities.
Activities for Kids with Cerebral Palsy
Here are 11 fun activities for kids with cerebral palsy and their benefits.
They will help your child practice their motor skills and stimulate the brain.
1. Arts and Crafts
Painting, drawing, sculpting, whatever it is, it’s always a great idea to get children to explore their creative side.
Holding a paintbrush, coloring inside the lines, and molding clay are all activities that develop fine motor skills.
Especially for children with cerebral palsy and speech disorders, art can be a great way for them to express their feelings.
2. Adaptive Sports
There are tons of adaptive sports designed for children with all sorts of disabilities.
Benefits of having kids with cerebral palsy play sports include:
- Better coordination, balance, and circulation.
- Strengthened musculoskeletal system.
- Improved social skills. Sports teach children how to work in a team, cheer for one another, and learn to accept when things don’t go your way.
- Better sleep.
- Goal building.
3. Board Games
If you think about it, board games make children count, move their pieces to certain locations, strategize, and take risks.
These are all skills that promote motor or cognitive development and children often don’t even realize it because they’re so distracted by the game itself.
Kids with cerebral palsy that have speech impairments can benefit from singing.
Singing is processed by a different part of the brain than speech and with enough practice, it can help your child improve tone, articulation, and flow.
Flint Rehab’s MusicGlove is clinically proven to improve hand functions.
It’s a game that challenges you to match the tips of your fingers to your thumb along to music.
It’s designed specifically to promote neuroplasticity in the brain (the ability to rewire itself) by encouraging you to perform as many repetitions as possible.
Photography is an activity that stimulates lots of different parts of the brain.
It encourages spatial awareness, planning, and allows children to communicate their thoughts in a nonverbal way.
7. Horseback Riding
Horseback riding is one of the best activities for kids with cerebral palsy because it promotes:
- Range of movement
Children constantly have to shift their center of gravity to stay on the horse.
In fact, there’s a whole therapy based on horseback riding called hippotherapy because it has helped so many children with cerebral palsy improve their motor skills.
Getting into the pool is also a type of physical therapy used to help kids with cerebral palsy improve their gait.
Water naturally has buoyancy, which is what keeps your afloat and makes you feel lighter in the pool.
It helps you practice movements without all the pressure of your body weight.
Water also has viscosity, which is the resistance that makes it difficult to move quickly in water.
It helps strengthen your muscles by forcing you to push a little bit harder.
A lot of kids with cerebral palsy have poor nutrition due to feeding difficulties that make it difficult to chew or swallow.
Try cooking with your child. Taking measurements and mixing ingredients together will help them develop their motor skills.
Knowing that they made the food will make them want to eat it more.
Take your child to a playground and go on the swings.
The only ways to swing higher is to pump the legs with more power and build momentum, so it will encourage your child to move their legs more.
Swinging also requires a certain amount of grip and balance, so start slow and over time, these skills will develop.
11. Hula Hooping
Hula hooping is a great activity for kids with cerebral palsy who need to develop strength in their core.
Believe it or not, it also activates several areas of the brain.
Hula hooping requires coordination, concentration, and rhythm. Once you get the hang of it, hula hooping can even be relaxing because your body sort of goes into autopilot and performs repetitions without much thought.
The Right Mindset
Forcing physical therapy may make your child feel like their cerebral palsy is a problem that needs to be fixed.
When you let your kid do the activities that all the other kids are doing, they don’t feel so different and naturally develop new skills and abilities.
Cerebral palsy is unique to each individual and you just have to experiment and see what activities your child gravitates towards.
The possibilities are limitless and just like any other kid, kids with cerebral palsy will have activities that they love and others that they don’t.
Cerebral palsy shouldn’t stop your child from doing what they love to do. Encourage them to constantly test their limits.
Check out this video on what children and adults with cerebral palsy love to do despite having a disability.
Treat children with cerebral palsy just as you would treat any other child.
It will help them understand that cerebral palsy is an obstacle that they can overcome.
The best activities for kids with cerebral palsy are the ones that your child loves to do.