Cerebral palsy, which results from damage to the brain that can occur while the baby is in her mother's womb to up to age 2, can cause several types of symptoms. For example, a patient can have very tight muscles, tight joints or muscle weakness that affects one limb, one side of her body, both of her legs or her arms and legs if she has spastic cerebral palsy one type of cerebral palsy. Cerebral palsy may also cause cognitive and intelligence problems. MedlinePlus noted that learning disabilities and decreased intelligence can occur in some cerebral palsy patients, while other cerebral palsy patients can have normal intelligence. Complications of cerebral palsy can sometimes include problems with communication.
Since the symptoms of cerebral palsy may affect patients' performance in the classroom, patients may qualify for special education. The website 4MyChild lists three special education options that a child with cerebral palsy may qualify for: Individual Education Plan (IEP), the 504 Plan and Other Health Impaired (OHI). IEP is under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), which provides a special education plan and accommodations for the child. For example, an IEP may include provisions such as a special chair for the child or speech therapy. If a child with cerebral palsy does not qualify for an IEP, another option is the 504 Plan. Unlike an IEP, the 504 Plan does not have federally funding. What a 504 Plan does is provide the teacher with steps to help accommodate the student. For example, 4MyChild noted that a 504 Plan may state that a child needs to sit in the front row of the classroom so she can see better. For cerebral palsy patients who do not qualify for an IEP or 504 Plan, but need help at school, OHI is an option. To qualify for OHI, 4MyChild explained that the patient must have either a chronic or acute health condition, have difficulties with learning and have a health condition affects his or her alertness or attention.
If a child with cerebral palsy receives special education, he or she may undergo different therapies or have access to assistive technology. For example, if communication is a problem, patients may use voice synthesizers, computers or symbol boards, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS). Speech therapy can help patients with communication difficulties. The Laurent Clerc National Deaf Education Center at Gallaudet University added that adaptations in the classroom to help cerebral palsy patients can include providing note takers to students, adjusting sitting arrangements and extended time on tests.