Every person is different and handles situations differently, but hearing for the first time that your child has cerebral palsy is difficult for any parent. “What does this mean for my child?” and “Now what?” are common questions parents ask after learning of the diagnosis.
Learning to navigate the numerous medical and community resources can be challenging. Caring for a child with special needs can also be very emotionally difficult and can create stress upon the family.
Every county is different in the services offered to children with special needs. It is important to become educated about what services are offered in your area. There are many social workers at Nationwide Children's Hospital who would be happy to help you access all appropriate services for your child.
Ask your physician or the nurse to link you with the clinic social worker and she will be happy to help you with any needs or questions that you might have. You can also call the Clinical Services and Care Coordination Department at (614) 722-6300 and ask to speak to a social worker.
Finding other parents who are experiencing similar situations can also be very helpful. It is often helpful to talk to someone who understands what you are going through and has gone through similar difficulties. This is also a good way to get “first hand” information on how the system really works and tips on how to navigate the community agencies.
The following is a list of community agencies, websites, and literature that can be helpful to you throughout your journey with your child.
- To learn more about CP, visit the CDC website.
- Find the contact information for your local Help Me Grow.
- Find the contact information for your county DODD.
- For the current Summer Camp Directory and Family Resource Directory, contact the State Support Team - Region 11 or call (614) 542-4189.
Cerebral Palsy Resources
Children with cerebral palsy are at risk for learning difficulties or intellectual disability. There are many children with CP, though, who do not have any learning difficulties. There are many resources to help you and your child in this area. One such program is Help Me Grow/Early Intervention. This is a program for children birth through 3 years who have been identified as having developmental delays or are at risk for being delayed. This is a program that is operated by every county and the services provided vary from county to county. Help Me Grow can help link your child with therapy either in your home or at a therapy center depending upon the resources in your county. You will also be assigned a Help Me Grow Service Coordinator who can help educate you regarding services in your area and also provide you with information on any child development questions you might have.
Once your child turns 3, they no longer qualify for Help Me Grow services. Make sure that your Help Me Grow Service Coordinator transitions you to “The Board of Mental Retardation/Developmental Disabilities” (MRDD) in your county. Along with a Service Coordinator, MRDD has many programs that can help you and your child.
When your child turns 3, the school system becomes responsible for providing your child with the appropriate therapies and education your child requires to participate to their full potential in the educational system. Each school system is mandated by law to provide education to children with special needs when they turn 3. Every school system has a special needs preschool program for those children who qualify. Children can be referred to this program by family or professionals. The child will receive a “Multi-Factor Evaluation” (MFE) to determine eligibility. Once the child is deemed eligible for the program, educational goals need to be established for the child.
Your child will remain in the special needs preschool until it is time to transition to Kindergarten. The IEP will help make this transition smooth so that the elementary school is aware of your child’s needs and can provide the appropriate accommodations. The parent(s), along with school personnel, meet together to review the results of the MFE and to then develop an “Individualized Education Plan” (IEP). The IEP lists the educational goals for that child for the school year. The preschool program provides all appropriate therapies within the school setting. The IEP is updated every school year, or more often, if the child’s needs change.
- Teaching Motor Skills to Children with Cerebral Palsy: A Guide for Parents and Professionals, by Sieglinde Martin, M.S., P.T.
- Finding A Way: Living with Cerebral Palsy, by Brenda Bilbrey. A children’s book written by someone with CP.
- Children with Cerebral Palsy Second Edition: A Parent’s Guide, by Elaine Geralis.
- United Cerebral Palsy of Central Ohio - United Cerebral Palsy of Central Ohio is a private, non-profit agency whose mission is to provide an environment where people with disabilities and aging conditions receive individualized programs and support services. Phone: (614) 279-0109
- Epilepsy Foundation of Central Ohio - Provides counseling, case management, support groups, summer camps, and other family activities and supportive services. Phone: (614) 358-0874 or Toll Free: (800) 878-3226
- Miracle League - Baseball for children with special needs and typically functioning friends.
- The Adaptive Adventure Sports Coalition (TAASC) - A non-profit organization that offers individuals with disabilities the opportunity to participate in sports and recreational activities.
- Locker Soccer - Special-needs soccer program and soccer classes.
- CCYHA/Special Hockey Association (ASHA)/USA Hockey - Special-needs hockey.
- Wendy’s Gymnastics and Fitness for Children - (614) 486-8004
- Blaze Sports Columbus - The mission of Blaze Sports America is to advance the lives of youth and adults with physical disability through sport and healthy lifestyles.
- Special Olympics Ohio - Year-round sports training and competition opportunities for children and adults with intellectual disabilities.
- The Ohio State University Adapted Recreational Sports(ARS) - (614) 688-8787
- Recreation Unlimited - (740) 548-7006, Provides year-round programs in sports, recreation and education for individuals with disabilities.
- Camp Recky: The Ohio State University Department of Recreational Sports - (614) 688-8787
- Camp Can Do YMCA of Central Ohio - (614) 543-9000, ext. 212
Special summer day camp for children and young adults with moderate to intensive special needs, ages 6 through 21 years.
- Epilepsy Foundation of Central Ohio - (614) 358-0874 or Toll Free: (800) 878-3226
- “Camp Firebird” - Children who are between the ages of 7 and 17 with a primary diagnosis of epilepsy are eligible to attend this residential camp.
- “Camp for Champs” - Day Camp that incorporates therapeutic horseback riding.
- Columbus Recreation & Parks Therapeutic Recreation Camps - (614) 645-5648
Fully Accessible Playgrounds
- “Preston’s HOPE”
50 Lochspur Ln
Chagrin Falls, OH 44022
- Dublin Miracle Playground
Darree Field Park
6259 Cosgray Rd
- Fryer Park/Discovery Frontier
3899 Orders Rd.
Grove City, OH
- Ohio Department of Education (ODE)
ODE helps you to understand your rights and the rights of your child. It details federal and state laws and resources and tools for helping your child.
- Ohio Coalition for the Education of Children with Disabilities (OCECD)
OCECD is a statewide, non-profit organization dedicated to advancing the educational interests of children with disabilities.
- Child and Youth Law Program - (614) 241-2001 or (888) 246-4420
Provides information, advice, and representation regarding the education and healthcare rights of children
- Nationwide Children's Hospital Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy, Speech Pathology and Recreational Therapy: (614) 722-2200
- Columbus Speech and Hearing: (614) 263-5151
Audiology & Hearing Aid Services
Speech-Language & Occupational Therapy
Program for the Deaf
- Easter Seals of Central and Southeast Ohio: (614) 228-5523 or (800) 860-5523
Provide a range of services including early intervention, summer camp, outpatient therapy and recreation programs.