Multi-sensory impairment and cerebral palsy

Children and young people with multi-sensory impairment (MSI) have impairments of both sight and hearing. The effect of a combined reduction in both vision and hearing, even if mild, affects the amount and quality of information that can be incidentally learned from the environment.

Poor access to everyday information can have an impact on social interaction, understanding of concepts, emotional development, communication and independent mobility skills. As a result development and learning are affected.

Many children with cerebral palsy will have MSI but there has been little research on the actual numbers involved. One study of children born in Victoria, Australia between 1999 and 2004 found that 44 per cent of children with CP who had a hearing impairment also had some degree of visual impairment.

Any possible medical treatments will be those for the individual hearing and vision impairments mentioned previously.

Effort should be focused on the support needed for the child’s communication, mobility, social and educational development. As with single sensory impairments, early intervention is the key to improving outcomes for the child.

View more information on the NCB website about early intervention for children with multi-sensory impairment, other guidance and sign posting for parents.

Related links

Cerebral palsy homepage

Hearing loss and cerebral palsy

Visual impairment and cerebral palsy

The Information Standard 'Certified member' logoThis page is not a substitute for a consultation with a health professional and should not to be used as a means of diagnosing a condition.

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Reviewed: May 2015
Review due: May 2017


First published: Monday 24 June 2013
Updated: Tuesday 22 December 2015