Behavioural problems in school age children with cerebral palsy
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BACKGROUND: Although behavioural problems are frequent in children with Cerebral Palsy (CP), the exact nature of these difficulties and their relationship with intrinsic or extrinsic factors are just beginning to be explored. AIM: To describe and characterize behavioural problems in children with CP and to determine the nature of any relationships with child and family characteristics. METHODS: In this cross-sectional study, children with CP between 6 and 12 years of age were recruited. Children were assessed using the Leiter Intelligence Test, the Gross Motor Function Measure, the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ), the Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scales and questionnaires on demographic factors. Parents' level of stress was measured with the Parenting Stress Index. RESULTS: Seventy-six parents completed the SDQ. Using the Total Difficulties Scores, 39.4% of the sample scored in the borderline to clinically abnormal range. Peer problems were the most common (55.3%). High parental stress was consistently associated with behavioural difficulties across all domains of the SDQ. Not surprisingly, better socialization skills and a lower parental stress were correlated with more positive behaviours. CONCLUSION: Behavioural difficulties are common in children with CP and appear not to be associated with socio-demographic variables and physical and cognitive characteristics. These difficulties are an important correlate of parental distress. This study emphasizes the need to recognize and address behavioural difficulties that may arise so as to optimize the health and well-being of children with CP and their families.
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