Does cerebral palsy affect intelligence? Is there a treatment to improve cognitive functions in someone with an intellectual disability?
Cerebral palsy is a motor disability that affects movement and muscle contractions.
It’s caused by a problem in the brain during development, and like most cases of brain damage, various functions can be affected.
Does Cerebral Palsy Affect Intelligence?
Cerebral palsy is not directly correlated with intellectual disability, but they do commonly occur together.
Intellectual disabilities and cerebral palsy are associative conditions. They’re both caused by brain damage but have different sources.
Nearly half the population of people with cerebral palsy have an intellectual disability.
Children with spastic cerebral palsy are more likely to have intellectual impairments than those with other types of CP.
What’s the Difference Between Intellectual Disability and Learning Disability?
Intellectual disabilities and learning disabilities are two distinct conditions. However, many people incorrectly use them interchangeably, so let’s clear up the differences.
A person with an intellectual disability will have an IQ at or below 70 and difficulties with adaptive behaviors like communication and self-care.
They can learn and perform new skills; it just takes them longer to learn how.
In contrast, someone with a learning disability can still have average or above average intelligence.
The term learning disability is more academically oriented and describes difficulties understanding skills learned in a school setting like reading, math, and writing.
Signs of Intellectual Disability
Intellectual disabilities can be mild (IQ 50-70), moderate (IQ 36-49), severe (IQ 20-35), or profound (IQ below 20).
The younger your child is, the more difficult it will be to determine if he or she has an intellectual impairment.
Early intervention can prevent certain behaviors from becoming habits. If you suspect your child is demonstrating signs of intellectual disability, seek a professional evaluation.
Signs of intellectual disability include:
- Problems communicating and understanding social situations
- Delayed responses
- Poor memory
- Emotional outbursts
- Difficulties thinking logically and problem-solving
- Learning to crawl and walk later than other children
How to Deal with Intellectual Disability in Children with Cerebral Palsy
Children with intellectual disabilities are more likely to have problematic behaviors, seizures, and difficulty with bladder or bowel control.
Behavior therapy can help improve social skills like communication and problem-solving.
It will focus on identifying problem behaviors and replacing them with positive reinforcement.
Educational assistance can help ensure that your child has the individual support and attention he or she needs to succeed academically.
Speech therapy will help develop articulation, listening, and receptive language for improved interactions with others.
Occupational therapy will help your child learn to be more independent and perform self-care duties.
Physical therapy can help reduce physical impairment and optimize motor functions.
What You Can Do to Help Your Child With Intellectual Disability and Cerebral Palsy
Having an intellectual impairment on top of cerebral palsy can be extremely stressful.
Understand that your child not only has difficulties moving but also processing information and communicating; so it’s completely normal for them to experience frustration from time to time.
Wondering what you can do to help?
- Encourage your child to experiment and discover things on their own to develop independence and problem-solving skills.
- Have your child participate in group activities with other kids the same age to promote socialization.
- Consider joining a support group so that you and your child can meet other kids with cerebral palsy and/or intellectual disability. Speaking to other people who’ve gone through the same experiences and emotions as you can be helpful and calm your worries.
Hopefully, this article gave you a better idea of how cerebral palsy and intelligence are related and helped you understand what you can do to work through an intellectual disability.
It might be overwhelming at first, but your child will learn to adapt and face challenges better over time.
Remember that children with cerebral palsy and intellectual disabilities are fully capable of learning; they just need to work at their own pace.