Children with physical or mental disabilities can face many difficulties in their lives. However, according to Carol Aloysius of "The Sunday Observer," "Disability, whether mental or physical, does not disable a person. Discrimination, social stigma and poverty does." Therefore, it is important to be aware of the people who are interacting with a disabled child. Nevertheless, with adequate care and education, disabled children can lead rich and happy lives.
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A serious problem that all physically and mentally disabled children face is mockery and derision by others. The adolescent and teenage years can be a difficult time for anyone, but disabled children often face a higher degree of teasing and taunting due to their mental and physical differences. Physically and mentally disabled children may also experience more teasing because they have difficulty standing up for themselves.
Another difficulty physically and mentally challenged children face is increased isolation. Although it is not always the case, children with these problems can be ignored by their peers and adult figures. Other children may find it difficult to interact with children with developmental challenges, while adults may tend to focus on children without these problems. As the severity of the disabilities increases, the child may become increasingly isolated. Extreme disabilities may cause a child to be confined to his home or an institution.
Abuse and Neglect
A tragedy that some physically or mentally disabled children face is abuse or neglect. Children with certain disabilities are unable to stand up for themselves, or may be unaware that they are being abused. According to the Abuse Victim Hotline, "People with developmental disabilities are 4 to 10 times more likely to be victims of crime than other people are." Sadly, the vast majority of abuse toward those with disabilities is perpetrated by family members, peers with disabilities or professional caregivers.
There is also a strong link between poverty and disability. Without proper care or education, disabled children are at greater risk of becoming impoverished or homeless. For instance, according to a study in the United Kingdom, "the poverty rate for disabled people was 23.1 per cent compared to 17.9 per cent for non-disabled people, but when extra expenses associated with being disabled were considered, the poverty rate for people with disabilities shot up to 47.4 per cent."
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- "The Wall Street Journal"; Uneven Care: As Parents Age, Agencies Struggle To Help Disabled; Clare Ansberry; October 2004
- "The Sunday Observer"; Winning the Battle Against Poverty and Disability; Carol Aloysius; September 2002
- National Coalition for the Homeless; How Many People Experience Homelessness?; July 2009
- Disabled World: World Facts and Statistics on Disabilities and Disability Issues