Best practice tips for cerebral palsy

Best practice tips are strategies that have been evaluated in other settings, target a relevant factor (such as a teaching style that lowers student anxiety), or is considered best practice by experts in the field.

Adjust the expectations

Consider providing different ways to get information and show learning. For example, students who have trouble with writing can be assessed using computers or tablets. Other options include providing tests with large print texts, allowing the student to use finger pointing, or encouraging the student to say the answers.

Create plenty of space for movement

Consider whether the physical space can be rearranged and check that pathways are free. This may mean checking if pathways are wide enough for a student to easily navigate and that there are no loose objects on the floor.

Allow plenty of time for transitions

Some students with cerebral palsy may need extra time to move between classrooms and buildings. Alternatively, plan the student’s classes so it minimises how much they need to move from class to class.

Promote independence

When possible, allow the student to choose what they would like to do. Encourage teachers, School Learning Support Officers (SLSOs), Aboriginal SLSOs, and Aboriginal Education Officers (AEO) to give students space to interact with peers and participate independently. This can help to encourage social interactions with peers.

Consider seating position and duration

Some students might need extra help to support their posture or physical comfort in the classroom. Bean bags or pillows may help, sometimes the student may need to change position regularly or stand. This may help with pain management, or particular tasks like handwriting. 

It is important that you speak with the student and their parents or carers about how you can assist the student to optimise their levels of comfort for classroom participation and engagement. Consider also talking with any allied health professionals working with the student about the best seating position for them.  

For some students, a seating aid, postural support or mobility aid may be required. Such devices are permitted for therapeutic purposes, not for managing behaviour. Use of these devices must be prescribed by an allied health professional. 

Their use in the school must be planned in consultation with student and their parent/carer and only used in accordance with that plan. Further information can be found in the guidelines for the use of seating aids, postural supports and mobility aids for students with disability at school.

Allow more time to learn skills and understand concepts

Some students may need more time to process and learn new skills in the classroom. Breaking down key learning concepts and activities into smaller but challenging sequences may be helpful.