How Spina Bifida Affects Childhood

Childhood can be difficult enough and those growing up with spina bifida will face challenges that healthy individuals may not be able to relate to. While a majority of those with spina bifida perform well in school those that have shunts due to hydrocephalus, water on the brain, may learn at a slower pace than others. They may also have a tendency to lose things, have short attention spans and they may have trouble making decisions.

When a person enters school they can have an individual education plan and can be entered into school as a general education student. The school system is to be made aware of the plan to be aware of the kind of special attention or needs the student requires. These plans are developed by the parents, teachers, the school nurse and psychologist to provide a learning environment for the young student.

No children with spina bifida will be alike and their health issues may not be similar to others as well. Some may have health problems that are more difficult than others, but with proper care and counseling there is no reason a child cannot grow up to be active participants in life. Their physical challenges will also vary with some requiring a walker or crutches while others may be in a wheelchair. Continued physical therapy will help them achieve their full physical potential and participating in activities with friends will also prove beneficial. If possible, these youngsters should be encouraged to participate in activities with others that do not have disabilities.

It is important to realize that many young people with spina bifida will have trouble with bathroom usage and often suffer urinary tract infections. They may also require catheters and allowances should be made to allow them as much independence as needed to regularly visit the bathrooms to avoid potential accidents that could embarrass them in front of other students. Children with spina bifida are also more prone to skin rashes than other healthy children and parents and others should routinely check their skin for rashes, blisters or burns. Due to their condition they may also have little or no feeling in certain areas of their body and may not realize a physical problem exists. They have to count on their parents and care providers to ensure these types of problems are taken care of.

Immunizations are an important safeguard against many illnesses for children with spina bifida and any protection against diseases and infections should be utilized regularly.

An interview with one mom about her daughter and Spina Bifida


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