How Does Cerebral Palsy Affect Speech and Language Development?

Woman using sign languageCerebral palsy is a permanent, non-progressive condition caused by damage to the developing brain, either during pregnancy or shortly after birth, and affects individuals in different ways. This condition can affect body movement, muscle control, reflexes, posture, and balance. It can also lead to visual, learning, speech, and intellectual impairments. While it is incurable, therapy plays a vital role in managing its effects, and early intervention is crucial to increasing a child’s potential for independence and quality of life.

Speech and Language Therapy

Cerebral palsy can affect the language centers in the brain that control speech, resulting in difficulty with using the correct words or an inability to express one’s self. In such cases, a speech and language pathologist can assist in finding ways in which your child can begin to communicate through cues, sign language, or augmentative communication devices. These forms of therapy are effective in addressing several conditions including:

  • Aphasia – loss or partial loss of verbal expression
  • Dyspraxia – inability to correctly pronounce words due to muscle coordination
  • Dysprosody – disruption in speech timing
  • Dysarthria – abnormal facial muscle tone
  • Stuttering – interruption or repetition in speech
  • Dysphagia – swallowing or breathing issues
  • Resonance disorders – vocal tract issues

Speech pathology addresses not only the act of speaking, but the ability to comprehend language as well. A speech therapist will also address other issues, such as word formation, pronunciation, listening, vocabulary development, and the ability to engage in direct conversation. If a child is non-verbal, a speech pathologist can also help identify other ways in which the child can express himself or herself to promote human interaction. To achieve this, therapists use gestures, symbols, touching, picture boards, or technology-based methods.

The Benefits of Speech and Language Therapy

Communication is a vital part of everyone’s daily life experience and is a crucial element in how our personalities form. Children with cerebral palsy face a daily challenge of being able to communicate their thoughts, which is why speech and language therapy are necessary for proper intervention. It provides children the chance to learn adaptive and compensatory strategies to communicate.

Other key benefits include:

  • Improved literacy
  • Confidence and independence
  • Improved social skills
  • Reduced or eliminated self-consciousness
  • Reduced shyness
  • Increased ability to learn

Given that cerebral palsy affects children in different ways, therapy must be individualized to suit each child’s specific needs.

When Does Speech and Language Therapy Begin?

Shortly after a child is diagnosed with cerebral palsy, therapy can begin, even in infancy, so the brain can start to make connections that cannot be achieved later in life. If delayed, a child will have to make changes in how he or she establishes learning patterns and physical habits, which is vastly more difficult. Speech is interwoven with physical, social, occupational, and psychological development, which could all be negatively impacted if treatment is put off for too long. Beginning this process early will open opportunities for inclusion and acceptance.

Cerebral Palsy Attorneys in Southfield

Cerebral palsy is often the result of a mistake made by a doctor, nurse, or hospital during birth, though hospitals will certainly never admit to this. This incurable condition can be crippling, and caring for your child can take an enormous emotional and financial toll on your family. You should not have to pay for the negligent mistakes of someone else. At Fieger Law, we have secured hundreds of millions of dollars in verdicts and settlements since 1964. We would be honored to do the same for you. If your child is suffering from cerebral palsy due to the negligence of a healthcare provider, you have a right to pursue compensation.

Call us today at (800) 294-6637 to learn more about how we can help you.


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