Understandably, many children affected by cerebral palsy experience emotional and behavioral challenges as they attempt to cope with the condition.
Behavioral therapists are the professionals who work with parents and children to help teach them techniques to discourage destructive behavior and increase independence. The behavioral therapist ends up acting more as a consultant who provides suggestions families can use to follow through with at home.
Children with cerebral palsy sometimes resort to act such as biting or pulling hair in order to release their frustration. The behavioral therapist’s job is to help children find more constructive ways to release their pent-up frustration.
In general, behavioral therapy follows this process:
- Monitoring – Parents monitor their child and keep a detailed log of all targeted behaviors.
- Schedule of Weekly Activities – The parents and therapist work together with the child to develop a new list of activities that will provide the child with positive experience.
- Role Playing – The function of this process is to help the child develop new coping skills manage other challenges that may arise in daily life.
- Behavior Modification – Every time the child successfully engages in a positive behavior, he or she receives a reward.
An example of behavioral therapy would be placing a toy in a box. The child would then be asked to use his or her weaker hand and take the gift from the box.
In order to extinguish undesirable behaviors, a child may be given a time out or have a toy taken away, much like any other child.
The individual techniques used for each child will vary, but they are all aimed at improving physical, cognitive, and communicative skills.