Information for the public

Emotions and behaviour

Living with the challenges of cerebral palsy can be difficult and, for some children and young people, can lead to emotional or behavioural problems. They may be more likely to get depression or anxiety, or may show behaviours that other people find difficult or upsetting (called 'behaviour that challenges'). They may also be more likely to have conditions such as autism and ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder). Medicines they are taking for other problems can make emotional or behavioural difficulties more likely.

Emotional and behavioural difficulties might make it harder for a child or young person to make friends, join in with activities and relate to those in their peer group. Addressing these problems is just as important for your child's wellbeing as getting treatment for their physical difficulties, and the care team should work closely with you and your child to do this.

It is important to look at what may be causing or adding to your child's emotional or behavioural problems. It could be frustration due to problems in communicating, lack of sleep, pain, or something in particular they are worried about, such as a change in their care arrangements.

Families should be supported to spot behavioural problems early, and given ongoing help to deal with them. The care team should also find out what support parents and carers need. Your child should be referred to a specialist team if they need more support.

Questions you or your child may want to ask

  • Can you explain how to spot signs of anxiety or depression in my child?

  • Who should I contact if I am worried about my child's mental health?

  • What kind of support is available to help us manage behavioural problems?

  • How will emotional or behavioural problems be assessed if my child has communication difficulties?

  • Information Standard