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Neuropsychiatric disabilities in children with cerebral palsy

Participants: Magnus Påhlman, Kate Himmelmann, Elisabet Wentz & Christopher Gillberg.

Background: Cerebral palsy (CP) is the most common cause of physical disabilities in children. The prevalence of CP is slightly more than 2 per 1000 children. Accompanying impairments, for example intellectual disability and visual impairment, are common. While studies show that autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and ADHD (attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder) are more common in CP, the knowledge in this area is insufficient. On the individual level it is of great importance that all difficulties are identified so as to allow for the right support to be provided.

The research questions: How common are ASD and ADHD in CP? Is there a connection between type of CP, severity of motor difficulties, localisation of the brain damage, way of communication and general cognitive ability on the one hand and the occurrence of ASD and ADHD on the other hand? What is the pattern of the neuropsychiatric difficulties? What are the most common symptoms? And how do we best assess children and adolescents with neuropsychiatric problems and cerebral palsy? 

Method: Included in the study were children with cerebral palsy born in 1999-2006 in Västra Götaland (some 250 children), identified through the changing panorama of cerebral palsy in Western Sweden study. In study I parents are asked to complete screening forms that capture behaviours indicating ASD and/or ADHD. Some questions concerning affective/emotional symptoms and anxiety are also included. In study II children with a positive screening outcome are offered further assessment. 

Results: The screening part is ongoing and cut-off limits for the forms are evaluated. Further assessments have also started.


Page Manager: Anna Spyrou|Last update: 9/17/2014

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