Other considerations for cerebral palsy

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 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. Identify the best ways to manage injury, illness, pain, and fatigue early on. Frequently check in with the student.

Build a relationship with other professionals that support the student (for example, occupational therapist). That way, you will be informed on signs to look for, adjustments that can be made to relieve discomfort, and the best ways to manage injury, illness, pain, and fatigue.

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.

Assessments and homework

Some students with cerebral palsy may find completing homework tasks challenging.

Consider the students’ use of technology or assistive devices. Some students might need support with writing and may benefit from tests and workbooks provided in an online format.

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 and demonstrating some teaching strategies.

Some students may need additional time to complete assessment tasks or it may be more helpful to provide them fewer tasks to complete in the set time.

Bullying

Encourage a safe and supportive environment in the classroom. Consider using role-play in the classroom to highlight how students can identify bullying, and how they can address it.

Discuss with students what to do, and where to go, if they require additional support at school.

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. Discuss with the student and their family whether specific mobility supports may be needed, and consider whether having a peer or staff member walking with them will be helpful.

Excursions and camps

Excursions and camps might be challenging for students with cerebral palsy. Planning in advance can reduce these challenges.

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.  

Consider the destination and whether it is accessible and safe for the student. Get extra support staff to assist if needed.

Planning for frequent breaks during the excursion may be helpful.

Transitions

For more information about supporting students with disability when transitioning across education settings, access our transition page.

Post-school transition to adult life should begin as early as possible in school.

Aim to increase independence by working on organisational, social and problem-solving skills, and time- and self- management skills. Provide plenty of opportunities to practise them across a range of contexts.

It may be helpful to identify skill gaps and develop a support plan to help them be successful (for example, social skills, academic and/or employment skills).

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.