All Children's Hospital Logo

Health Information Library

Parents > Special Needs > Factsheets > Cerebral Palsy Special Needs Factsheet
Cerebral Palsy Special Needs Factsheet

What Teachers Should Know

Cerebral palsy (CP) affects muscle tone, movement, and motor skills (the ability to move in a coordinated and purposeful way). CP is usually caused by brain damage that occurs before or during a child's birth, or during the first few years of life.

How CP affects each person depends on which part or parts of the brain are involved. Some people have only mild impairment, while others are severely affected. For example, brain damage can be limited, affecting only the part of the brain that controls walking, or it can be more extensive, affecting muscle control of the entire body. Although CP doesn't get progressively worse, how it affects a person's body can change as children grow and develop.

About 500,000 people in the United States have CP, making it one of the most common congenital childhood disorders.

Because bullies often target students who seem "different," certain health conditions, including CP, can put kids and teens at higher risk of being bullied.

Kids and teens with CP may:

What Teachers Can Do

Many students with CP can do the same kinds of things that other kids and teens like to do, such as extracurricular activities, phys-ed, playing or listening to music, hanging out with friends, etc. Students with CP, however, may need a little more time to travel between classes and complete activities and tasks.

Make sure your classroom is easy to get around and free of obstacles.

Students with CP may need to miss class time for doctor visits or to see the school nurse to take medication. Make sure to give special consideration regarding missed instruction, assignments, and testing. In some cases, arranging for verbal responses in assignments and testing can be a good way to measure learning.

Educators, parents, doctors, therapists, and the students with CP should work together to develop and maintain the best treatment and education plans.

Be prepared for possible medical emergencies by planning ahead with parents in case your students with CP need advanced assistance.

Reviewed by: Mary L. Gavin, MD
Date reviewed: August 2013

Related Articles
P    504 Education Plans
P    Camps for Kids With Special Needs
P    Cerebral Palsy
K    Cerebral Palsy
T    Cerebral Palsy
T    Cerebral Palsy: Keith's Story
P    Disciplining Your Child With Special Needs
P    Financial Planning for Kids With Special Needs
K    Going to a Physical Therapist
K    Going to an Occupational Therapist
T    I Have Cerebral Palsy. Can I Babysit?
P    Individualized Education Programs (IEPs)
K    Kids With Special Needs
P    Physical Therapy
P    Sending Your Child With Special Needs to Camp
Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
© 1995-2015 KidsHealth® All rights reserved. Images provided by iStock, Getty Images, Corbis, Veer, Science Photo Library, Science Source Images, Shutterstock, and

Additional Info

Pocket Doc Mobile App
Maps and Locations (Mobile)
Programs & Services
For Health Professionals
For Patients & Families
Contact Us
Find a Doctor

All Children's Hospital
501 6th Ave South
St. Petersburg, FL 33701
(727) 898-7451
(800) 456-4543

Use Normal Template
© 2015 All Children's Hospital - All Rights Reserved