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Types Of Disabilities In Australian Children

Many assumptions and stereotypes surround people with disabilities, but the full concept of a disability goes beyond simply having a physical or mental impairment. Australia recognizes a disability as any condition which interferes with a person’s capability for performing daily tasks. Children with disabilities are particularly at risk, with some research showing that these children are more likely to experience abuse, neglect, and other forms of maltreatment. Luckily, NDIS services are available for children with disabilities. Learn more about disabilities, including how disabilities impact Australian children and what type of assistance NDIS can provide.

What Is A Disability?

A disability is any condition that limits a person’s daily life. Disabilities can take multiple forms and may be congenital, meaning they were present from birth. Conditions can also appear later in childhood due to an accident or injury.

Experts categorize disabilities in terms of how difficult it is for a child to go about their core functions of daily life. These activities include performing appropriate self-care, communicating, moving around, and participating in events such as school or work. Disabilities can also be measured using the amount of assistance a person needs to perform these tasks.

School is a vital part of most children’s lives, providing socialization, learning experiences, and the opportunity to succeed. If a child’s disability interferes with their schooling, it can have a major impact on their overall development. Children need to participate in schooling to the greatest extent possible. Kids with disabilities can often take part in schooling through special equipment, additional assistance, or by attending specialized classes or schools.

What Are Types Of Australian Children’s Disabilities?

Children’s disabilities include physical, psychosocial, intellectual, and sensory/speech conditions. Disabilities impact a child’s life in many ways. Some conditions may be apparent to observers while other issues don’t seem immediately obvious to outsiders. Remember that a disability is anything that prevents a child from managing the daily functions of their life without assistance. Disabilities can look different in every child.

In 2015, SDAC found that 7.4% of Australian children under age 14 had some type of disability. At the time, that accounted for 329,000 children. Disabilities were reported to be more common in boys than in girls, with 9.4% of boys having some kind of disability and 5.4% of girls.

Intellectual disabilities were the most common, accounting for around 190,000 reported cases or 4.3% of Australian children. Sensory and speech disabilities were second most common, at 140,000 children or 3.2% of the population. Psychosocial, physically restricting, and other kinds of disability were the next most common types of disability. Acquired brain damage or head injury was the least common form.

Of the 329,000 Australian kids with disabilities, 219,000 children had restrictions on their schooling and 177,000 had a condition considered severe. Boys were more likely than girls to have a severe disability. Disabilities were seen more frequently in children living in inner regional areas and among children of low-income households. However, disabilities were seen in similar frequencies between both Indigenous and non- Indigenous families.

Severe disabilities were seen more frequently in children ages 5-9 than in children ages 10-14 or birth-4. There are several reasons why this age group could see higher occurrences:

  • Activity restrictions become more obvious when the child starts their schooling

  • Assistance and diagnosis is more widespread at this age

  • Issues may resolve or be easier to manage as children get older

  • Children ages 0-4 are challenging to diagnose and require regular assistance due to

    their age and development

    What Does NDIS Cover?

    The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) is designed to support Australians who have permanent, significant disabilities. NDIS is available in addition to other forms of medical, mental, and social support. It doesn’t take the place of these systems but instead offers services, referrals, and connections to groups such as doctors, libraries, clubs, support groups, and state and territory governments.

    Children’s NDIS services are determined by age. For children under age 7, NDIS focuses on early childhood intervention. These years are a vital opportunity for children to learn skills they’ll carry throughout their lives. Both short-term and long-term assistance is available for kids under 7.

    NDIS can cover a range of situations for children ages 7 and up. A child who lives in Australia as an Australian citizen, or holds a Permanent or Special Category visa, may be eligible if they fall into any of these categories:
    • Usually need support from another person to handle daily tasks

    • Use specialized equipment to perform core life tasks
    • Need extra assistance now in order to require less assistance later in life

    A disability can be anything that impacts your child’s daily life. If any of these categories describe your child, they may be eligible for life-changing assistance through NDIS.

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