Articles and Topics
How can I help my 10-year-old with cerebral palsy learn to read?
Q: My child is 10 but cannot read yet because the school will not teach her how to do anything like sign language or other things. They just keep telling me she is stupid and can't do anything. Can you give me some ideas on what I can do to help her to learn sounds and signs. Doctors say she has cerebral palsy, but she can out-beat anyone on a computer when she sets her mind to it! She also has epilepsy.
A: Your question is full of heartache, Kimberly, but perhaps I can help. In your question you mention two key resources—your doctor and your daughter’s teacher. The next time you have an appointment to have her medication checked, talk to the doctor about your frustration with the school. One of the most wonderful things that has happened in America over the past 40 years is that now every child with a disability has a right to an education. Many public schools have excellent programs, as do some parochial and private schools. So talk with your doctor, or to a resource he or she might refer you to, about local programs. If a change is recommended, don’t be afraid to give it a try.

Your other key resource is your daughter’s teacher. Talk to her/him about the fact that your daughter is not being taught as much as you feel she can learn. (If the teacher refuses to give you an appointment, let the principal know—and all the way up to the superintendent if necessary.) And, when you have your appointment, try not to put all the blame on the school. Indicate that you know your daughter can be difficult and challenging. Then ask what you can do at home to help your daughter achieve the things the school is trying to teach. Make it a true partnership, and your daughter will reap the benefits.