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Disabled children do matter
Date:12/2/2011

gaps in provision, particularly during the transition to adulthood;

  • Physical access and transport barriers to sport and leisure activities result in segregation, while participation in art and creative activities is limited;

  • Widespread discriminatory attitudes threaten to create a culture of bullying;

  • Families of children with life-limiting/threatening impairments often experience isolation and poverty

    The researchers call for a change of attitude towards disability so that diversity is not only valued, but promoted. "There is an 'epidemic' of labelling children as disabled," Professor Goodley and Dr Runswick-Cole warn. "Parents are repeatedly under pressure to talk about what their children can't do in order to access services and support, but sometimes the label can obscure the individual. Families should be asked what support their child requires, not what is the 'matter' with him or her."

    Their report recommends that policy should prioritise enabling disabled children to break down barriers by supporting their participation in education, the arts, leisure and their communities and by meeting their communication requirements. "We need to re-think the culture of individualism and performance which pushes disabled children out" continue the researchers. "Pressures on schools are getting worse. We found a case where parents of non-disabled children petitioned to exclude a disabled child. What does this say about the meaning of education and community?"

    The study found that bullying is often accepted as inevitable when disabled children are perceived as vulnerable. There were several layers of violence, from manhandling in school to psychological bullying, which often goes unnoticed by adults. Some children do however stand up to bullies and refuse to be limited by labels that are imposed upon them.

    One young person insisted on attending Brownies meetings alone, despite health and safety
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