Wednesday, November 2, 2011

"If your child was born with Cerebral Palsy..."

I've got a phone call yesterday from a number I didn't recognize. A recording was encouraging me to stay on the line if my child was born with Cerebral Palsy because I may have a right to compensation. It was a law firm or a legal referral service seeking out potential clients. Of course I don't have a child with Cerebral Palsy or any other "birth defect" as the message stated. I have Cerebral Palsy. And I am an attorney. The nature of this solicitation and how it shouldn't have been aimed at me are not really that important. But advertisements like that  pose a number of interesting questions. Money will not cure Cerebral Palsy. Yes, it can buy a better standard of living, adaptive equipment or even placement in a sought after hospital or treatment facility if  parents choose to do something active with their child, but too few do. What kind of information is given to mothers facing this life altering scenario? What do attorneys know about Cerebral Palsy, children needs and different approaches to therapy, treatment and education? What happens beside the big payoff? My concern is that all of this is set up to a lifetime in a wheelchair in a comfortable non challenging environment. I get a lot of e-mails from parents all over the world, concerned that they're doing occupational therapy 2-3 times a week for an hour, it doesn't seem to be working and the child is growing heavier. The question is always "What to do". The answer is: Educate yourself.

 I'm not the one to attack physio or occupational therapy like many Conductive Education purists. God knows, my parents have tried just about anything, before and in combination with CE. And I believe that anything can be of benefit if it's consistent, physical and continuous. But Cerebral Palsy requires working on your body all day every day, it's not something you can touch upon for a few hours a week. And it's not something that will go away only because a big pile of money is thrown at you. I  would really like to stop seeing it  framed as a financial problem only. My experience is people come to lawyers looking for guidance, direction, legal and non legal alike. Because where your case ends, a lifetime commitment begins. The paths you choose will affect their choices.  Here's a question to my fellow attorneys: What do you know about Cerebral Palsy? Who do you put them in touch with? How do you provide encouragement? What options are you aware of?

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