Signs in Early Childhood 

Signs in early childhood include:

  • Early feeding difficulties 
  • Delayed development 
  • Poor muscle control 
  • Muscle spasms 
  • Lack of coordination 

Although the damage to the brain will not become worse, the effect on the body can become more obvious with age, and physical deformities can develop. Early detection and management can reduce the severity of the effects of the disability. 

Associated Difficulties

Certain difficulties and medical conditions commonly occur in a child or adult with cerebral palsy. Some of these are: 

  • Eyesight - The most common eye problem is a squint. This may be corrected with glasses or in severe cases an operation. More serious eye problems are much less common. 
  • Hearing - All children with cerebral palsy should be seen by a specialist to check for hearing problems.
  • Speech - Speech depends on the ability to control muscles in the mouth, tongue, palate and voice box. As these muscles may be affected, some people with cerebral palsy may find talking difficult. This situation will range from having no speech to those whose speech may only be slightly affected. Speech difficulties and difficulties associated with chewing and swallowing often occur together.
  • Spatial perception - Some children with cerebral palsy cannot perceive space and relate it to their own bodies (for example, distances) or think spatially (for example, visualise a three dimensional building. This is due to a problem in a part of the brain, and is not related to intelligence.
  • Epilepsy - Epilepsy may develop in approximately one in three of all children with cerebral palsy. Others with cerebral palsy may develop epilepsy in adult life. There are various types of epilepsy and the seizures may range from occasional to more persistent. The condition is usually controlled with medication.
  • Intellectual or learning disability - There is a wide range of intellectual ability in people with cerebral palsy. Often it is difficult to assess learning ability in the early years. Severe physical disability does not indicate intellectual disability. In cases where it is known that there is intellectual disability this will range from mild to severe. Some people have difficulty in learning to do certain tasks, such as reading, drawing or arithmetic, because a particular part of their brain has been affected.