December 19, 2012

Best of Nightlight: Extraordinary Kids - Understanding Special Needs Adoption

cerebral Palsy“Focus on: Cerebral Palsy”

Many families pursuing international adoption are intimidated by the options, the process, as well as the potential challenges. So when a family hears about “special needs” adoption, they can feel completely overwhelmed.

But the truth is that most of these special needs are quite misunderstood and often can be corrected with minor treatments or training.

This week, we put a special focus on special needs adoption by taking a revealing look at cerebral palsy. The following was written by Joan Francis, an attorney whose expertise is in Family, Disability and Juvenile Law, and who has also adopted a special needs child.

"What is cerebral palsy (CP)?

Any situation involving any level of brain damage immediately before, during, or within about a year after birth is essentially by definition "cerebral palsy," unless other diagnoses also apply. Typically this is due to deprivation of oxygen on a temporary basis or bleeding in the brain, which sometimes occurs in very premature infants.  Injury to the brain after a child is one year old is usually called TBI (traumatic brain injury) ---for example: a blow to the head, near-drowning, shaken baby, etc.

Many with CP may have great difficulties in one area (such as severe dyslexia) but display almost photographic memory, dramatic intuitive thought, and comprehension, as well as  other unexpected gifts as well.

CP is a STABLE condition; it does not worsen, but can definitely improve over time. By itself it does not shorten life expectancy and so on.

How does it affect the child?

NOT all children with cerebral palsy show any degree of "spasticity" ---some are actually "hypotonic," somewhat floppy babies; some have severe contractions of muscles, which can be relieved by medication or surgery; and some do actually have spasticity as one normally thinks about it, i.e. uncontrolled movements.

NON-VERBAL is NOT the inability to communicate!!!! It is usually the inability of the listeners to easily understand what is being communicated. Think Deafness and American Sign Language as an example, rather than cerebral palsy. Unless the listener knows Sign Language, he can't read the message ----but it doesn't mean the speaker/message sender isn't communicating, just that the communication is not being understood.

Today, speech-disabled children and adults have unheard of miracles available to them from Assistive Technology and Augmentative Communication (AAC) to simple I-PAD applications which can remedy these problems and allow them to excel in their education!!!

THIS IS WHY SUCH CHILDREN NEED FAMILIES!!! And why fearing labels is such a terribly bad idea when considering adoption from foster care and agencies who don't see past the labels to the PERSON THAT CHILD WAS MEANT TO BE!!!

PLEASE LOOK PAST THE LABELS as you consider which children you are most able and willing to share your life with -----many, many special needs children are waiting and need you as their parent and advocate!!!"

For more information, visit Joan’s Yahoo Group: Adopting Children with Cerebral Palsy:

To learn more about available children with CP from our China's Waiting list contact Lisa Prather at our Kentucky Affiliate office at (859) 263-9964.

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