Coping with a disabled child

2017-10-04 06:00

LIVING with a disabled child can have profound effects on the family - parents, siblings, and extended family members. It is a unique shared experience for families and can affect all aspects of family functioning.

When providing services for children with disabilities, inclusion is what we strive for. The belief that the child with a disability is a child first, is paramount. The disability comes second.

Policies and legislation aims to achieve this. But we are not there as yet. For some disabled children, however, care may be life long-extending in some cases beyond the parents’ death. Adults raising a disabled child can face a host of daunting challenges.

The most obvious resource needs involve health care. Disabled children require not only high quality primary care, but they often require multifaceted specialised care on a long-term basis.

Ideally, children with complicated cases will have a team of specialists who work together in a coordinated fashion. If the condition is rare or difficult to diagnose, the family may need to consult specialists on a regional or national level.

Even routine transportation may become a problem when the child has mobility issues, especially for poorer families who rely on public transportation. The family’s dwelling may be inadequate to accommodate the child’s physical limitations and expensive modifications may be necessary.

Children with disabilities often have complex educational and child care needs as well as unique recreational and social needs. They may need early intervention programmes for physical, developmental, and/or emotional rehabilitation. Later, specialised education programmes or facilities may be needed.

Into the teen years and adulthood, transition programmes and specialised job training can help many disabled individuals become independent, although supported employment on an ongoing basis may be necessary. Specialised child care is often needed, as are appropriate recreational and social activities for the disabled child.

The good news for families of children with disabilities is that there are programmes and organisations that provide resources they may need. Medical care may be financed by private medical aid.

The state health programmes include multidisciplinary health care including dietician, physiotherapy, occupational therapy, speech and language therapy, audiology, podiatriatry, etc.

Association for the Physically Challenged provides the following services for people with physical disabilities: counselling, support groups, skills training, protective employment, education and awareness raising, advocacy, rehabilitation programme, material assistance, residential care, facilitates application for assistive devices amongst others.

You can find more information by calling 033 342 2768 or by visiting

- Supplied.


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