Potential Signs of Cerebral Palsy in 17-24-Month-Olds

Cerebral Palsy Diagnosis

Doctors typically diagnose cerebral palsy in children after they reach 2 years old. That’s because many of the signs of cerebral palsy become more pronounced around a child’s second birthday. However, it is possible to receive a diagnosis before your child’s second birthday. Discover some of the most common potential signs of cerebral palsy in 17- to 24-month-old children.

Motor Skill Problems in 17-24-Month-Olds

Most children aged between 17 and 24 months become more mobile and confident on their feet. Their fine motor skills also improve, allowing them to play and interact with the world. However, cerebral palsy can impact a child’s ability to hit milestones for motor skills. Parents should watch for the following motor skill problems that may point to cerebral palsy:

  • Walking only with assistance from furniture, walker toys, or people
  • Walking independently, but very unsteadily
  • Needing help to climb onto a chair or into bed
  • Needing another person to help them walk up and down stairs
  • Struggling or unable to stand on tiptoes
  • Struggling or unable to run
  • Not being able to kick a ball
  • Not being able to throw a ball overhand
  • Not using simple tools for their intended purposes, such as the phone to speak to loved ones
  • Reaching for objects with one dominant hand, even if items are closer to the other hand
  • Building towers of no higher than three blocks
  • Not sorting toys by shape or color
  • Not being able to draw simple recognizable forms, such as straight lines and circles

Verbal Problems in 17-24-Month-Olds

The speech patterns of most 17- to 24-month-old children also become more advanced and sophisticated. During this age, children are usually more capable of sharing their thoughts and feelings. However, children with CP often struggle to develop their verbal skills. In some cases, a child with CP could have issues with their mouth and tongue muscles, making it more difficult to form words. They may also struggle to hear, which can also make it harder to learn words. The following verbal problems can be potential CP warning signs:

  • Saying fewer than six words clearly without prompting and understanding what they represent
  • Not naming simple body parts and connecting the words with the body parts
  • Not naming familiar people and connecting their name to the people
  • Not naming simple elements featured in picture books such as the sun, a dog, or a baby
  • Not stringing at least two words together for simple sentences, such as “Drink juice” or “Tired now”
  • Not repeating new words they overhear in conversations
  • Not completing nursery rhymes or familiar sentences from favorite books

Lack of Response in 17-24-Month-Olds

Most 17- to 24-month-old children are highly engaged and interactive. They also begin feeling more emotions, like anger and excitement. Many toddlers throw tantrums and act out because of experiencing new feelings. Being less responsive or showing fewer emotions can be a sign of CP. Children with cerebral palsy may exhibit the following behaviors:

  • Not pointing to objects or people they like or want
  • Not pointing to named items in a room or in books
  • Not imitating adults and older children they admire
  • Showing little emotion when spending time with other children
  • Not interacting with their environment
  • Not inviting other children to join in play
  • Not following two-step instructions, such as “Pick up your blocks and put them in your toy box”

Lack of Independence in 17-24-Month-Olds

Children usually start forming their own personalities between the ages of 17 and 24 months. Remaining heavily reliant on parents and other familiar people may be a sign of cerebral palsy. Look for the following social signs that may indicate your 17- to 24-month-old child has cerebral palsy:

  • Not role-playing or trying simple tasks on their own, such as feeding or brushing hair
  • Not using imagination for creating simple role-playing scenarios, such as being a shopkeeper or parent
  • Always complying with requests from adults rather than pushing the boundaries
  • Being unable to find hidden things unless they are placed in obvious positions

Regression in 17-24-Month-Olds

The period between 17 and 24 months is a time of immense development for most children. Toddlers of this age usually become more physically adept, more verbal, and more engaged with their surroundings. Regressing, or losing skills after initially meeting milestones, can be a sign of cerebral palsy. Your child may have cerebral palsy if they exhibit the following regressive signs:

  • Not walking without assistance and crawling, scooting or bunny hopping instead
  • Not using words they have learned and used in the past
  • Babbling again or becoming silent
  • Not responding to people, objects, or the environment that they have acknowledged before

A cerebral palsy diagnosis can take a financial and emotional toll on families. However, if you believe medical negligence caused your child’s cerebral palsy, you could qualify for compensation that can ease the burden. Contact the Cerebral Palsy Family Lawyers at Janet, Janet & Suggs to learn more about your family’s legal options.



Reviewed by:
Trish Fletcher, MS, BSN, CRNP, NNP-BC, ALNC
Neonatal Nurse Practitioner | Birth Injury Legal Nurse Consultant

Tricia is a dedicated, focused, Birth Injury Legal Nurse Consultant and Neonatal Nurse Practitioner with more than 25 years of experience. Her strong clinical and critical thinking skills, paired with expertise caring for neonates in a Level III Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), ensures meticulous medical records review. READ FULL BIO

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