Behavior Issues and Cerebral Palsy

Cerebral Palsy Diagnosis

Behavior issues in children may have a variety of causes, including cerebral palsy. When children act out in certain ways, it could be a sign of physical or mental distress, necessitating mental health assessment and treatment. If untreated, issues with behavior can make it difficult for individuals to form and maintain relationships and succeed in a career. However, with proper treatment, children can learn how to handle their emotions and lead happier lives.

Causes of Behavioral Issues in Children

Behavioral issues are split into five main categories of disorders: anxiety, disruptive behavioral, dissociative, emotional, and pervasive developmental disorders. These disorders may present in various ways, including both physical and mental responses that could be beyond your child’s control.

Emotional factors can impact the behavior of a child, as can physical causes. If a child is dealing with the emotional impact of a divorce of their parents, a death in the family, or other challenging situations at home, they may act out. Behavioral issues may also be linked to inconsistent or unhealthy disciplining by caregivers. A poor attitude toward schooling can cause a child to feel frustrated and lash out against their parents, caregivers, or teachers.

Physical factors that can lead to behavioral issues include malnutrition, physical disabilities and illnesses, brain damage, and hereditary factors. Children with cerebral palsy may also lash out, engaging in poor behaviors that reflect their physical struggles with this movement disorder. Cerebral palsy is caused by an injury to the brain, resulting in an inability of the body to control or coordinate muscle movements through impulse signals.

Signs of Behavioral Issues

A child who is experiencing behavioral issues may act out in a number of ways that vary between individuals and the issues they experience. Some of the most common behavioral concerns include placing blame on others, getting nervous or annoyed quickly and frequently, exhibiting signs of uncontrolled anger, throwing temper tantrums, arguing, or refusing to follow rules. Older children may also struggle to handle their frustration and react violently to situations that don’t go their way. Behavioral problems are more difficult to spot in younger children and babies, as they are still developing and learning how to act in social situations.

Effects of Behavioral Disorders

If unaddressed and untreated, a behavioral disorder may go beyond childhood, extending into adulthood and causing short-term and long-term concerns. A child dealing with these issues may frequently get in trouble at school and/or at home, have trouble forming relationships with their peers, or even engage in bullying or other aggressive behaviors. In adulthood, a person with behavioral issues may struggle to form a partnership or friendships, have difficulties getting and holding a job, or push against societal norms and rules.

Diagnosing Cerebral Palsy from Behavioral Issues

Cerebral palsy behavioral issues typically present similarly to behavioral issues in children caused by other factors, although they may be accompanied by physical signs as well. Since CP is a movement disorder, a baby may arch their back excessively or experience other signs of involuntary muscle movement. However, when a caregiver suspects that their child’s behavior issues may be caused by cerebral palsy, this usually occurs in an older child. Other signs of CP generally present within the first two years of a child’s life, but milder cases may not have clear physical symptoms.

If you suspect a connection between cerebral palsy and your child’s behavior issues, it’s important to take them in for an evaluation with a qualified healthcare professional. A specialist, such as a pediatric neurologist or developmental pediatrician, can perform diagnostic testing to determine whether the brain is functioning properly and sending impulse signals to control your child’s physical and mental reactions.

According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in 323 children is diagnosed with a form of cerebral palsy, making it the most common motor disability in childhood. While the signs and symptoms of CP more often present as physical and developmental delays or struggles early in life, some children respond to the physical and emotional challenges associated with this disorder by acting out and struggling with their behavior in a range of situations.

Although treatment options have advanced greatly in the recent past for cerebral palsy, it still has a significant impact on people with the movement disorder and those who care for them. If your child has been impacted by cerebral palsy caused by medical malpractice, the Cerebral Palsy Family Lawyers at Janet, Janet & Suggs, LLC may be able to help. We have helped more than 30,000 families across the country, applying our years of experience and combined legal and medical expertise to help victims of medical negligence investigate their legal options and pursue action, if necessary. Contact us to learn more about your potential legal case.



Claire Surles, RN
Reviewed by:
Claire Surles, RN
Registered Nurse

Claire comes to JJS after a 10-year career as a labor and delivery nurse. She dedicated her hospital efforts to advocating for families, providing the safest birthing environment possible as Newborn Admission Nurse at UMMC St. Joseph Medical Center in Towson, Maryland. Her passion for helping those who experienced losses at any stage of gestation led to her appointment as Coordinator of the hospital’s ROOTS perinatal loss program. READ FULL BIO

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