Parents and families of children with Cerebral Palsy face many challenges. As friends and neighbors of these families, it is natural to want to help. It is also common to be unsure of what you can – or should – do. It’s easy to feel intimidated at the prospect of getting involved, even when you want to.
The good news is that the Cerebral Palsy community welcomes the assistance of people and advocates from all walks of life and skill sets. Whether you are driving someone to their next appointment or volunteering on a community level, there are valuable ways for everyone to pitch in.
Stern Law, PLLC assists families affected by Cerebral Palsy by offering comprehensive legal resources and vital information. We help parents investigate the cause of their child’s condition and pursue Lifetime Benefits when appropriate to help cover future medical costs and living expenses. We can be reached online or at (800) 462-5772.
What is an Advocate?
An advocate is a person who supports the interests of others who may not be able to speak for themselves. Often, parents turn to a Cerebral Palsy lawyer to fulfill this need. Other times, parents act as educational advocates to fight for their child’s academic rights. As a friend or family member of someone affected by Cerebral Palsy, you may also be able to champion a child by getting involved with local community groups and volunteer organizations.
Understanding Cerebral Palsy
The first step to helping your friends and family is to understand the reality they are faced with. You don’t need to be an expert on Cerebral Palsy in order to lend a helping hand, but a basic understanding of the condition will give you an informed perspective on the lives you hope to impact.
Also known as CP, Cerebral Palsy is a general term for a broad spectrum of neuromuscular complications caused by an injury to the brain. Cerebral Palsy affects each child differently, but is commonly characterized by a motor function impairment that can affect balance, posture, reflexes and muscle control.
Cerebral Palsy does not have a cure. Although CP does not worsen over time, the body’s ability to overcome the physical challenges presented by the condition naturally diminishes with age.
Helping Friends and Family
There are many ways you can personally help friends and family members affected by CP. By offering your empathy and time, you can provide invaluable emotional and practical support. You may feel uncomfortable when asking about a child’s situation or how you can help. Generally speaking, parents appreciate when friends and family speak honestly and show a genuine, compassionate interest in their lives and needs. Your assistance does not need to be grandiose. There are some simple things you can do right away, such as:
- Communicate. Pick up the phone or meet for coffee. Make a habit of saying hello and listening.
Learn more. Ask questions about the condition in general and the child in particular. Follow the child’s development and share in the joy of small victories.
- Offer help. The best way to find out how you can help is to ask. Be open to the feedback. Simply making time to talk may be enough, but there could be practical help you can provide as well, by assisting with:
- Give space. Understand that despite your willingness to connect and help, parents don’t always have the time to socialize. Don’t take this personally or try to push the issue.
- Get involved. Cerebralpalsy.org is a helpful resource for finding information about community, government and faith-based organizations that focus on supporting those touched by CP.
If you know friends or family who would like to learn more about the cause of their child’s condition or their legal rights, Stern Law, PLLC can help. Contact us online or at (800) 462-5772.