Approximately 1 in 400 babies born in the UK have a form of cerebral palsy. A common misconception about cerebral palsy is that meaningful employment is not possible for people with the condition.
Cerebral palsy is a group of disorders that affects the brain and nervous system. It appears during infancy or early childhood and can affect motor skills, including the ability to control movement, coordinate muscles and maintain balance.
An important part of independence is having a job and earning an income. The level of disability caused by cerebral palsy varies widely in each individual. Some people are unable to live independently because of the severity of their symptoms, while others have milder symptoms which make finding and maintaining employment a realistic and important goal.
Everyone deserves the opportunity to find and maintain a career, but people with disabilities, including cerebral palsy, often face difficulties when looking for a job. If you have cerebral palsy and are unemployed, Careers with Disabilities have compiled several strategies to help you find meaningful employment:
It is essential to consider which occupations are the right suit to your interests, skills and abilities, as well as your needs as a disabled person. Take the time to research the career opportunities available to explore the roles suitable to you.
Assistive technology can open doors for many people with cerebral palsy, especially in the workplace. There is a variety of assistive technology available, ranging from alternative office equipment such as adapted keyboards and voice recognition software to hands tools such as hammers and measuring instruments with accessible features.
The government offers a number of grants and schemes to help ensure people with cerebral palsy can access and maintain meaningful employment.
Advice for employers
People with cerebral palsy may develop a range of difficulties, but the type and severity of limitation differ between individuals. Most people with cerebral palsy will require some accommodations to perform their duties in the workplace. It is essential to consider your employee’s specific limitations and create adjustments suited to their needs.
Some of the adjustments you may want to consider, based on specific limitations, are outlined below:
Individuals may have difficulty walking due to a variety of motor limitations associated with cerebral palsy. Some people may struggle with walking for prolonged periods, while others may not be able to walk at all.
Hence, it is essential your workplace has wheelchair access to accommodate for someone with cerebral palsy. You may also want to consider alternate forms of communication, such as email, video, or phone call to reduce your employee’s need to travel to different parts of the office or workplace.
Organising and planning daily tasks
Some people with cerebral palsy may experience difficulties organising, planning and prioritising. This can translate into the workplace as an issue with deciphering the sequence in which job duties should be completed, or strategising how to complete their daily tasks.
Employers should consider providing their employee with a daily or weekly task sheet, with tasks broken down into smaller, more manageable chunks.
It may also be helpful to provide your employee with a mentor who can regularly check-in, provide reassurance and assistance if required.
Handling issues typically refer to the inability to manipulate items with hands or fingers. There is a range of accommodations employers can provide to help an employee with motor issues manage their limitations at work. This could include providing alternative office equipment, such as ergonomic or adjustable keyboards.
There is a range of government funding employers can access to help make their workplace accessible for people with a disability. To explore the grants your business may qualify for, visit our dedicated guide to funding.