Cerebral palsy (CP) is a broad term used to describe a group of chronic “palsies” — disorders that impair control of movement due to damage to the developing brain. CP usually develops by age 2 or 3 and is a nonprogressive brain disorder, meaning the brain damage does not continue to worsen throughout life. However, the symptoms due to the brain damage often change over time — sometimes getting better and sometimes getting worse. CP is one of the most common causes of chronic childhood disability.
About 10,000 infants are diagnosed with CP and up to 1,500 preschoolers in the U.S. are recognized as having it each year. The United Cerebral Palsy Association estimates that more than 764,000 Americans have CP.
Between 35% and 50% of all children with CP will have an accompanying seizure disorder and some level of mental retardation. They also may have learning disabilities and vision, speech, hearing, or language problems.
Much remains unknown about the disorder’s causes, but evidence supports theories that infections, birth injuries, and poor oxygen supply to the brain before, during, and immediately after birth result are common factors. Premature infants are particularly vulnerable. Severe illness (such as meningitis) during the first years of life, physical trauma, and severe dehydration can cause brain injury and result in CP.
Information taken from WebMD.
Children with Cerebral Palsy may qualify for special education services under the IDEA categories of Orthopedic Impairment, Multiple Disabilities or Visual / Hearing Impairment depending on the presentation of the child’s condition.