Other considerations for cerebral palsy

Behaviour

Some students might also show behaviours of concern. It’s important to remember students are most likely trying to communicate a need or want that is not being met.

Refer to the behaviour page for more information on how to reduce behaviour of concern by supporting the student and promoting more appropriate behaviour, and our emotions page for more information about supporting a student with managing their emotions.

Homework

Some students with cerebral palsy may find completing homework tasks without support challenging.

Consider the students’ use of technology or assistive devices. For example, some students might need support with writing. They may benefit from homework provided in an online format which they can complete using their assistive computers/keyboards.

It may be helpful to find ways to support the students’ parents or carers, where possible, to develop an effective and consistent homework routine at home. Consider discussing or demonstrating teaching strategies and reward systems used in the classroom.

Self-management

Some students with cerebral palsy may have trouble communicating toileting needs and completing other hygiene practices. They might need extra help with movement and balance.

Work collaboratively. Consider discussing any additional strategies or equipment (for example, adapted toilet seat, step ladder, railings) that can be used at the primary school to support the student.

For example, physical therapists and speech therapists can help you understand and correctly use effective materials and communication methods.

Encourage the student to use their preferred method of communication. Consider teaching gestures that they can use to alert others of their needs.

Consider using pictures to show a hygiene sequence (for example, washing hands). These may need to be combined with verbal and physical prompts. These prompts can be reduced gradually as the student demonstrates the skills or knowledge.

Transitions

A student with cerebral palsy may benefit from supports when moving across education settings.

It may be helpful to teach and practise organisation and homework skills, and time- and self- management skills.

For more information about supporting students with disability when transitioning to a primary or high school setting access our transition page.

For students transitioning to primary school access our school story - a school day and for students transitioning to high school access our school story - how to be organised.

First aid

Some students with cerebral palsy may have trouble communicating when they are tired, in pain, or unwell.

In addition to crying or vocalisations, look for non-verbal signs of pain such as changes to facial expressions, changes in movement, changes in behaviour, and changes in interactions with others.

Encourage the use of gestures or other methods of communication to work out what may be happening. 

Talk to the student’s parents or carers to identify the best ways to manage injury, illness, pain, and fatigue early. Frequently check-in with the student. Build a relationship with other professionals who support the student (for example, occupational therapist).

They can inform you on signs to look for, adjustments that can be made to relieve discomfort, and the best ways to manage injury, illness, pain, and fatigue.

Safety

Some students with cerebral palsy may not know how to tell an adult if there is an emergency, or what to do in an emergency or emergency drill. Consider spending time demonstrating and practising this with students. 

Consider whether evacuation points and procedures are suitable for the students' needs and mobility. 

Plan ahead. Some students may require support during emergency situations. Communicate with students and their family about whether specific mobility supports may be needed, and consider whether having a peer or staff member walk with them may be helpful.

Excursions

Excursions might be challenging for some students with cerebral palsy. Planning in advance can be helpful.

Consider how to accommodate the transportation needs of the student. For example, if using a bus, check that it has ramps and is wide enough to accommodate a wheelchair or other mobility aids the student might need. Organise extra help if needed.

Consider the destination and whether it is accessible and safe for the student. Planning for frequent breaks during the excursion may be helpful.

Social interactions

Encourage other teachers, School Learning Support Officers (SLSOs), Aboriginal SLSOs, and Aboriginal Education Officers (AEOs) to give students space to explore and participate independently. This will help a student feel a sense of belonging and allow them to make friends with other students.

Other co-occuring conditions

Some students with cerebral palsy may also experience deaf and hard of hearing, intellectual disability, specific learning disability, or blind or low vision. Some students may have challenges with attention or communication.

Refer to understanding disability page or common needs page to help support the student.