This Is My Child: facts and figures

"Providing additional assistance to children with additional needs is a matter of equality rights, not conditional charity." Mumsnetter inappropriatelyemployed

There are around 770,000 disabled children in the UK. Families with disabled children will lose over £3,000 each by 2015. (Source: Scope)

Disabled children under 16 are a fast-growing group because of the survival of pre-term and low birth-weight babies, earlier diagnosis of congenital and genetic conditions, and better outcomes and longer life expectancy following severe illness or injury. 

What do we mean by 'disabled children'?

Many children have 'invisible disabilities' - you won't be able to tell they have additional needs just by looking at them.

Disabled children are not all the same. However they will all require the support of health services at some point in their lives. They may include children with:

  • A long-term condition (eg cerebral palsy)
  • Complex health needs (eg uncontrolled epilepsy)
  • Multiple impairments/profound and multiple learning disabilities (eg severe learning disability with physical disabilities and additional complex health needs)
  • A learning disability (eg people with Down's syndrome have a learning disability)
  • A physical disability (eg muscular dystrophy)
  • A dependency on technology (eg children on ventilators or with tracheostomies or gastrostomies)
  • A life-threatening or life-limiting condition (eg cancer or Batten Disease)
  • A rare condition (eg Rett syndrome)
  • Acquired brain injury which can cause physical, cognitive and behavioural difficulties
  • Autistic spectrum disorder
  • Sensory impairments

This is not an exhaustive list and these are not discrete groups - children may fall into more than one group. Its purpose is to illustrate the wide and varied needs of disabled children. (Source: EDCM)

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Other sources
• HM Treasury and Department for Education and Skills (2007) Aiming High for Disabled Children: Better Support for Families.
• Prime Minister's Strategy Unit (2005) Improving the Life Chances of Disabled People

August 2013

Last updated: 9 months ago