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Learn about Spina Bifida > Tips for Parents and Teachers

Tips for Parents

  • Learn about spina bifida. The more you know, the more you can help yourself and your child.
  • Love and play with your child. Treat your son or daughter as you would a child without disabilities. Take your child places, read together, have fun.
  • Learn from professionals and other parents how to meet your child's special needs, but try not to turn your lives into one round of therapy after another.
  • Ask for help from family and friends. Caring for a child with SB is hard work. Teach others how to take care of your child and give them plenty of opportunities to practice while you take a break.
  • Keep informed about new treatments and technologies that may help. New approaches constantly emerge and can make a huge difference to the quality of your child's life. However, be careful about unproven "fads."
  • Learn about assistive technology that can help your child. This may include a simple communication board to help your child express needs and desires, or can be more sophisticated such as a computer with special software (if your child has been diagnosed with developmental delays).
  • Be patient, and keep up your hope for improvement. Your child, like every child, has a whole lifetime to learn and grow.
  • Work with professionals in early intervention or in your school to develop an Individuals Family Service Plan (IFSP) or an Individual Education Plan (IEP) that reflects your child's needs and abilities. Be sure to include related services such as speech-language pathology, physical therapy, and occupational therapy as appropriate for your child. Don't forget about assistive technology either.

Tips for Teachers

  • Learn more about SB. The resources and organizations listed at the end of this section can help you.
  • Sometimes the "look" of SB can given the mistaken impression that a child who has SB cannot learn as much as others. Focus on the individual child and learn first-hand his or her needs and capabilities.
  • Tap into the strategies that teachers of students with learning disabilities use for their students. Become knowledgeable about different learning styles. Then you can use the approach best suited for a particular child, based upon that child's learning abilities as well as physical abilities.
  • Be inventive. Ask yourself (and others), "How can I adapt this lesson for this child to maximize active, hands-on learning?" Remember just because the legs may be weak or unable to move, does not mean the brain is not ready to learn.
  • Learn to love assistive technology. Find experts within and outside your school who can help you. Assistive technology can mean the difference between independence for your student or not.
  • Always remember, parents are experts, too. Talk candidly with your students' parents. They can tell you a great deal about their daughter or son's special needs and abilities.
  • Effective teamwork for the child with SB needs to bring together professionals with diverse backgrounds and expertise. The team must combine the knowledge of its members to plan, implement, and coordinate the child's services.