It’s not unusual for parents to have concerns about whether their child is developing at the expected rate in their formative years.
Of course, in the vast majority of cases there is no cause for concern, as all children progress at different speeds and they naturally develop at their own rate.
However, it is important for parents to be aware of the expected developmental stages their child should be reaching at certain ages, and to ask questions of a medical professional if they have any concerns.
Almost 80 per cent of all child disabilities are detected by their parents. They see their children every day and are naturally best placed to detect intellectual and developmental delays.
Asking questions and seeking expert advice over such concerns can lead to an early diagnosis – and most importantly the support you and your child need.
We know from our work that children with cerebral palsy benefit hugely from highly specialised intervention at an early stage and careful monitoring throughout their early years.
Cerebral palsy is usually diagnosed between the age of 18 and 24 months, but the signs and symptoms are often present much earlier.
Quite rightly, parental concerns are often amplified if they experienced a pregnancy or labour which was traumatic or which may have exposed your baby to oxygen deprivation or a brain bleed.
But not all cerebral palsy symptoms are visible at birth and they can become more obvious as children develop.
Sadly, some children may never reach certain milestones because of a permanent brain injury which may have occurred during pregnancy, delivery or the neonatal period immediately after birth.
If you believe your child might be showing cerebral palsy characteristics or suffering from developmental delay, here are a few pointers to help decide if you should be seeing extra advice.
Possible signs and symptoms of cerebral palsy at 2-4 months
- Cannot control their head when picked up
- Difficulty sucking and feeding
- Stiff legs that cross and look like scissors
- Stiff or shaky arms or legs
Possible signs and symptoms of cerebral palsy at 4-6 months
- Display poor head control
- Won’t watch objects as they move
- Don’t smile at people
- Won’t bring items to their mouth
- Can’t push up with feet when placed on a hard surface
- Have difficulty moving one or both eyes in all directions
Possible signs and symptoms of cerebral palsy at 6-9 months
- Lack of affection for parents or caregivers
- Not trying to touch things within reach
- Reaching for items with only one hand while other is in a fist
- Not responding to close sounds
- Difficulty getting things to their mouth
- Doesn’t laugh or make squealing noises
- Seems stiff and has tight muscles
- Seems very floppy and/or have problems eating and drinking
- Not able to roll over
Possible signs and symptoms of cerebral palsy at 9-12 months
- Doesn’t move toys back and forth between hands
- Won’t look where parent is pointing
- Cannot bear weight on legs while using support
- Drags a hand and leg while crawling
- Cannot sit by themselves
- Doesn’t babble
Possible signs and symptoms of cerebral palsy at 12-18 months
- Not learning gestures like waving
- Does not point at objects or people
- Won’t search for items they see hidden
- Can’t stand with support
- Doesn’t crawl
Possible signs and symptoms of cerebral palsy at 18 months to 2 years
- Throwing head back and severely arching back in response to stimulation
- Not responding to touch, sounds or sights
- Feeding problems and excessive drooling
- Cannot sit, walk, or crawl
- Doesn’t point to objects or people
- Doesn’t know purpose of familiar items
- Cannot copy other people
- Not learning new words or babbling
- Cannot grasp items with thumb and index finger
- Cannot drink from cup without help
- Cannot feed themselves finger foods
- Cannot put blocks in and out of a bucket
- Has jerky or stiff arms and legs
- Displays floppy arms or legs
- Walks in a scissor pattern
- Lack of affection or fear
Possible signs and symptoms of cerebral palsy at 2-3 years
- Does not show any affection towards parents
- Does not lift arms to show a desire to be picked up
- Won’t copy the actions of others or follow simple instructions
- Does not know what to do with common items
- Fails to develop a heel-toe walking pattern after months of walking
- Has legs that cross like scissors when walking
- Cannot walk steadily
- Walks only on their toes
- Cannot use two-word sentences
Free help and legal advice for concerned parents
If your child displays any of the above, or a combination, and you have concerns, we would advise seeking expert opinion as to whether they are indicative of a medical condition such as cerebral palsy as soon as possible.
There are many types of cerebral palsy and other developmental disorders. An on-line article can only refer to some general pointers but cannot give you the guidance that a qualified medical professional who has met you, and your child, is able to offer.
Similarly, medical professionals can give peace of mind if something is transitory and not to be concerned over.
Sometimes, although maybe in only one in ten cases, this birth injury is caused as a result of medical negligence by a midwife, doctor, or medical team either during pregnancy or birth, resulting in a life-long impact on your child and family.
At Hudgell Solicitors, we help many parents question the care provided and ensure people are held responsible when it is established that life-changing errors were made.
We have helped many families who have children with cerebral palsy enjoy a much better quality of life, securing interim damages payments to secure specialist treatment, home adaptations, essential equipment, accommodation and care.
Our work is dedicated to ensuring your child has all the support they need to maximise their potential, and that families have a network of support around them as they look to adapt to a completely new, and challenging, way of life.
Long term we will seek to secure the best compensation settlement package possible to ensure your child has life-long care and support.
For free help or advice about how to start a cerebral palsy compensation claim, please get in touch – our expert solicitors will treat you with kindness and compassion.