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Concerned about your child, and wondering what might be some signs of mild cerebral palsy? You have come to the right place. Or at least, one of the right places.
All over the Internet, you can find the severe signs of CP. But, what if you have just noticed *little* things that have you wondering?
Things that make you ask, “is this a sign of mild cerebral palsy?”
I recently saw an infographic which had lists of what cerebral palsy can look like at various stages of development, all the way up to 24 months. At 24 months the listed cues for possible cerebral palsy included “might not be able to walk” and “might not be able to push a toy with wheels”.
The problem I ﬁnd with lists like this, is that at 24 months if your child isn’t yet walking, most likely you and your doctor have had a conversation already. I know all pediatricians are different, but I’m pretty sure that everyone needs to complete questionnaires regularly at well-child visits about what their child can and can not do yet. (Often called “Ages and Stages Questionnaires”) These forms are then used to see how your child is doing developmentally. So, if by 24 months, you and the pediatrician haven’t discussed your child’s lack of mobility, I would be surprised (and maybe a little concerned).
This isn’t coming from a place of “those points shouldn’t be on the list”, but instead “there are other things that should also be on the list.”
What about those children with mild cerebral palsy?
The children who ARE walking and pushing toys, but maybe fall every few steps because they are toe-walking and toe-dragging. Those children whose parents think “my kid is just clumsy.” Or “they just have some balance issues that will work out as they get older”. Especially the children whose parents are concerned about these things, but don’t want to come across as the over protective parent if nothing is wrong. Or the kids whose parents keep fighting that there is something wrong, but can’t seem to get anyone to listen. Sometimes doctors miss things. Sometimes you have to fight to have your concerns heard.
Mild CP can look so different than moderate or severe CP. These children could be missing therapies and services that would be incredibly helpful to their health, long-term success and comfort levels.
My daughter was just diagnosed with mild cerebral palsy at 23 months old. She can walk, she has started to run, she can push toys with wheels, she can walk sideways and has started walking backwards. If we weren’t already monitoring her because of a brain bleed at birth, her cerebral palsy could certainly have been missed for a while.
So what can mild cerebral palsy look like at 23 months? Here are some signs of mild cerebral palsy, based on our personal experience:
- Abnormal gait
- Regularly clenched hand (spasticity)
- Arm consistently “swinging” to help with balance when running
- Delayed speaking
- Hand or leg tremors
- Avoiding use of a specific hand
Any one of these things can be a sign, and certainly if you are seeing more than one in your child, you would want to have a conversation with your pediatrician. Even if it is not cerebral palsy, there may be issues that can arise from these behaviors, or there may be underlying causes.
Mostly, it is important to remember that cerebral palsy can range in severity from mild to severe. Everyone is different, and no two cases look alike. That means, whether the symptoms and behaviors you are concerned about are on this list or not; if you have concerns about your child, talk to your pediatrician. If they don’t make you feel heard and confident, go to someone else.
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