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Sunday, 16 January 2022

Children Today: The impact of the pandemic on disabled children and their families

Children Today: The impact of the pandemic on disabled children and their familiesTHERE are more than 750,000 children in the UK living with a disability and 351,000 young people with a learning disability, according to Disability Sport UK and Mencap respectively, many of whom are unable to live their lives to the fullest without the right adapted equipment, such as adapted buggies, adapted trikes and sensory equipment. Sadly, this equipment, often costing thousands of pounds, is deemed non-essential and therefore not funded by the NHS or government. 

Statistically, children and young people are more likely to live in poverty than those without a disability. In addition, research suggests that raising a child with a disability can cost somewhere between £300 and £1000 extra per month, meaning that much-needed equipment is prohibitively expensive for the families who so desperately it.   

This is why Children Today has been supporting children and young people with a disability for over 25 years by providing this vital adapted equipment, which is often truly life-changing not just for the child but their whole family.

Unfortunately, the pandemic has created even more challenges for many of the families we support. During the lockdown, many disabled children were not able to access the equipment and support groups they’ve come to depend on, or access was very limited. This has had huge implications on the mental health and development of thousands of disabled children throughout the UK. 

Research by the Disabled Children Partnership into the impact of the pandemic has revealed that 9 out of 10 children with a disability are socially isolated. Furthermore, nearly 40 per cent of parents with a disabled child reported that their life is worse since the pandemic started and that their child’s and their siblings’ quality of life is poorer. 

Studies suggest that even before the pandemic, those with a disability are twice as likely to suffer from mental health problems and those caring for a disabled child are more likely to have mental health issues too.

Charity Director, Emma Prescott said:

“As an able-bodied person it can be so easy to take simple things for granted, like going on a family bike ride; a trip to the beach or those much-needed walks we all clung onto throughout lockdown. But imagine not being able to take your children to the beach because it’s impossible to push a wheelchair on sand. Or not being able to leave the house at all because your child has no danger awareness, and without an appropriate buggy, car seat or trike, for instance, it’s simply too dangerous to go out! 

“Then imagine having almost all the access to support you’ve come to rely upon virtually vanish overnight when the pandemic hit. What may be a slight inconvenience to some, like cancelled swimming lessons, can be devastating for a child with cerebral palsy who needs those lessons regularly to build up his strength and stamina – but an adapted trike can be a great substitute to help get regular exercise. 

“Similarly, many children with autism had their routines turned upside down and were unable to access the sensory equipment they desperately need to help manage their moods and behaviour, which can be incredibly disruptive and upsetting for the whole family. The knock-on effect of such things has been phenomenal.  

“This is exactly why we believe it’s so important for disabled children and young people to have access to their own equipment and so we do everything we can to support as many young people and their families as possible.

“Every piece of adapted equipment we provide helps to reduce social isolation and improve the mental well-being of not only the children we support but often their parents, carers and siblings too. Bringing families closer together again is at the heart of what we do and why we do it!”  

To help more families spend time together this Christmas visit: https://bit.ly/31A1eLI 

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