Curriculum considerations for cerebral palsy
Some students with cerebral palsy may be very motivated by, and interested in, the arts.
Promoting creativity and self-expression may encourage appropriate behaviour, friendships, and self-esteem.
Adapted materials may be needed to support the full participation of the student.
For example, thicker pencils and paintbrushes may be better for grip, and including dance movements that are seated or possible using a walking frame would make these activities more accessible to students with cerebral palsy.
Review and assess the environment to allow safe participation of students with cerebral palsy. For example, check that materials and equipment are at an appropriate height for the student to reach.
Some students with cerebral palsy may need support with reading and writing activities.
It can be helpful to use various modes of communication when teaching literacy skills.
For example, consider using pictures to share a verbal story to students or demonstrating the story through acting.
Identify what the student needs help with. For more specific strategies for literacy, refer to tips for teaching students with specific learning difficulty.
Students might need support with tasks that require the use of fine motor skills (for example, writing or finger counting).
If a student uses adaptive technology to assist with everyday tasks, use these in the maths classroom.
For example, if a student uses a laptop with an adapted keyboard, consider making the maths exercises available in an online format.
Students may need more time to learn new mathematical skills. Check that students understand basic mathematical concepts before moving on to more complex ones.
It can help to repeat instructions or key concepts multiple times.
Personal development, health and physical education
Students with cerebral palsy who have challenges with movement, coordination, and balance and may need support with motivation during physical activities.
Consider planning activities ahead of time, including checking that adapted equipment is ready and available. Keep in mind that sports activities may need to be adapted for students that use a walking frame or wheelchair.
Consider working collaboratively to plan activities according to the strengths of the student. To provide a sense of belonging and acceptance encourage team work and give a student with cerebral palsy an active role in sporting activities.
Consider the environment. Check that the surface of the sporting area is not too slippery or sticky for the student to move around. Some students may need to take frequent breaks. Consider pairing the student with other students who can support them during activities.
Human society and its environment
Consider adjustments to teaching style.
Some students with cerebral palsy may need support with speech and this might result in feelings of frustration as well as behaviours of concern.
Assess whether learning a language will be of advantage to them on a case-by-case basis. If they are learning a language, focus on areas of strength and build from there.
Work collaboratively. For example, open communication with the student’s speech therapist may help identify effective strategies for learning a new language.
Science and technology
Some students with cerebral palsy may be unsteady in their movements and may have challenges with balance and coordination. Consider how the classroom can remain safe in order to prevent injury and discomfort for the student. For example, check that pathways are wide enough for the student to move within and pay attention to the placement of breakable objects.
Check that students have a workstation that is at an accessible height, has plenty of leg room, and is free from any physical or visual barriers.
Consider providing the student with a partner or small group that can assist with measuring, handling delicate equipment, or other manual tasks that the student may find challenging.
Some students with cerebral palsy might benefit from computer software or modified keyboards to help them participate. They may have strengths in technologies if they already use these on a day-to-day basis to support their needs.