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Growing up with hemiplegia

Adolescence is a difficult enough time for anyone: for someone with a disability it is even more difficult. As physical appearance (one's own and others') becomes more important, looking different, wearing special shoes or a splint, or appearing clumsy, can all affect the student's sense of well-being at school. He or she may face teasing or bullying, or may find it hard to make friends.

Behavioural and emotional problems

Recent research has shown that children and young people with disabilities of neurological origin, including hemiplegia, are more than usually susceptible to behavioural and emotional problems.

They often, for example, suffer from poor self-image and lack of confidence. All this, coupled with the physical and learning difficulties outlined above, can make school a very stressful place for the student. This stress can show in different ways - one person may become withdrawn and anxious, another may try to survive in a hostile environment by adopting an aggressive or over-independent stance.

Whole school support

Schools need to be aware of these factors in their response to a student with a disability such as hemiplegia. Whole school support from teachers and fellow students is vital if the student is to fulfil his or her potential.

Striking a balance

It is important to strike a balance between under- and over-reacting, to create a safe environment where the student can ask for help without losing face, or, equally, be challenged to reach heights he or she may not have dreamed of. Success even in one area can be an enormous boost to confidence.

Talking to parents

May parents will be only too happy to discuss any difficulties their child might be experiencing. Similarly, some schools have found it helpful for a parent to come and talk to staff before their son or daughter comes to the school.

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