Children can suffer from a wide range of disabilities; each child is different from another including the degree and symptoms of their disability. Disabilities in children are complicated with different categories and different types falling within a category.
Their disabilities often place them at a higher threat of being victims of physical or emotional abuse from other children or adults because they can be seen as easy targets. A child with a disability has the right to a happy, loved and safe life with access to healthcare, education, rehabilitation services and to enjoy child play.
It can easily cost up to three times as much to raise a child with a severe disability compared to a child without. Raising a child with special needs is a unique and often challenging experience but with love and patience the child’s life can be a happy one.
|A child with a physical disability.|
Some categories of disabilities found in children
There are a varied collection of different types of disabilities that can affect children such as;
Physical disabilities – Children with physical disabilities are often born with an inherited or genetic disorder that affects their physical movements. Children may have been left with a physical disability due to having acquired a brain injury or spinal cord injury, some may have fallen sick to a serious illness that affected the brain, nervous system or muscles, such as meningitis.
Intellectual disabilities – A child with an intellectual disability learns more slowly, develops at a slower rate and they might not be able to understand as much as children without intellectual disabilities. They often struggle with communication and taking care of themselves as well as have a lack of social and personal skills. Genetic conditions, problems during pregnancy or at birth or health problems such as being exposed to toxins or an extreme lack of nutrition’s may all contribute to a child having an intellectual disability.
Learning disabilities – Most children with learning disabilities are just as smart as other children but just struggle with processing information which makes learning more difficult. They may struggle to read, write or do basic maths sums. There a range of different learning disabilities from dyslexia (difficulty with reading) to dysgraphia (difficulty with writing) and everything in between.
Speech and language disorders – Articulation, fluency, voice and language are the four most common types that affect a child with a speech and language disorder. A SL disorder is one that makes communicating for children harder such as stuttering or a struggle to articulate certain letters.
Autism – Autism is a disorder that falls on a spectrum of different variations and affects children differently; each child on the autism spectrum will have unique challenges, skills and symptoms. Children with autism can show symptoms in their difficulty with social or language skills, or show restricted or obsessive behaviour.
Disabilities most common in children
Cerebral palsy is the most common physical disability in children. These children struggle to crawl, walk or run since birth and often have to make use of walkers or wheelchairs. It causes varied degrees of difficulties with movement, body posture and muscle stiffness in children. Cerebral palsy is due to a brain injury or a problem of brain development during pregnancy, birth or within the first 2 to 3 years of a child’s life.
Autism makes it difficult for children to communicate with others. They struggle to understand how others thinks and feel as well as social behaviour. These children often have repetitive behaviours such as rocking, pacing or hand flapping.
|A little girl with Down syndrome.|
Down syndrome is a genetic condition in babies born with all or a part of a third copy of chromosome 21. It is the most common of all chromosome abnormalities and 1 in every 1000 babies are born with this disability. It causes delay in physical growth development, different facial characteristics to other children without Down syndrome and mild to moderate intellectual disabilities.
Spina bifida means ‘split spine’ and happens when a baby’s spine in the womb does not close completely. It is believed that genetic or environmental factors cause this permanent physical disability. There are a variety of different spina bifida that can occur in babies, and as children grow up they often use walkers, braces or wheelchairs to get around.
Epilepsy is a condition when someone has seizures, children are sometimes born being predisposed to being epileptic. Fortunately about two-thirds of children with epilepsy will out-grow them in their teen years. It is a disease of the central nervous system causing electrical signals of the brain to misfire causing the seizures.
Ways to help children with disabilities
Upon finding out your child has a disability, you may experience feelings such as – denial, anger, confusion, disappointment, guilt and fear among many others. There is help and support available for parents and guardians of children with disabilities.
Show patience and emotional support at all times to the child with the disability.
Have a detailed understanding of the disability at hand such as terminology, symptoms, causes and treatments.
Reach out for additional help you might need in coping with your child or speak to other parents of children with disabilities.
Take it one day at a time and keep up a positive outlook.