Should we dispense with the term "cerebral palsy"? It is a question I keep coming back to.
Listen to three different voices:
In an article that first appeared earlier this year in the Parliamentary Monitor (April 2007) entitled "The very special needs of children with cerebral palsy", Jim Ferris CEO of the Percy Hedley Foundation had this to say:
"Even today, typical definitions of cerebral palsy say something like "cerebral palsy is a non-progressive disorder of movement or posture due to a malfunction or damage of the brain". Definitions go on to describe physical aspects and talk about other "associated" difficulties. There is the danger that the child with cerebral palsy is considered physically disabled with learning or other associated difficulties. It is vital that we think of cerebral palsy as a neurological condition which can impact on the whole of a child's development. It is equally important that we consider development as an integrated process where one difficulty will almost certainly impact on another.
On the website of the Institutes for the Achievement of Human Potential, the term "cerebral palsy" is quickly disposed of:
"The most common term used to describe children with mobility problems is "cerebral palsy." "Cerebral palsy" is not a diagnosis but rather a description of a certain type of brain-injured child. The children who are given this label are primarily injured in the subcortical areas of the brain. .... Using symptoms in place of a proper diagnosis often leads to the attempt to treat those symptoms. This does not work. .... Old-fashioned labels like "cerebral palsy" are not found in the literature of The Institutes, but rather the term "brain-injured.""
It has long interested me that Cerebra on its website takes a broad view that that has something in common with the two perspectives above:
"Every year in the UK there are approximately 650,000 new babies born and The Decade of the Brain research suggests that one in four will, at some point in their life, develop a neurological problem. These problems manifest themselves in conditions such as cerebral palsy, epilepsy, learning difficulties, attention deficit, behavioural and emotional problems or developmental delay. In the UK it is known that one in forty children is severely disabled for life."