HOW ARE DISABILITIES AND ABANDONMENT CONNECTED?
Disabled children (especially when disabled from birth) are at much greater risk than other children for abandonment from parents. The shock of the parents when they discover the disability after birth may cause a lack of attachment and bonding, and in many cultures disabled children and even their parents are rejected by local culture. The disability may be perceived in local culture as “a punishment from God”, as something shameful, or by other prejudices and superstitions.
The parents may find it an overwhelming task to care for a disabled child. For these reasons, children with disabilities are very frequently abandoned. They are also at higher risk for being exposed to violence and sexual abuse. Many countries have no public support systems to help parents keep their disabled child, or to help parents and school with knowledge about how to support the child’s development. For this reason a lot of children who could stay with their families if helped, are abandoned.
Disability is a very broad term covering a whole range of problems. For children in public care the problems are often:
- Sensory disabilities: being blind or deaf or having impaired hearing and seeing disabilities.
- Genetic and hereditary diseases such as Down’s syndrome or Mongolism, and autism.
- Brain injuries. From premature birth, alcohol abuse in the mother during pregnancy, from brain trauma after being exposed to violence. Epileptic diseases.
- Consequences of diseases such as being paralyzed after polio.
- A general delay of brain growth caused by deprivation in environments with poor stimulation for infants (see: www.train.fairstartedu.us, click “sessions”, click “SESSION 4 -The Hospital Model”).
In this resource we can’t give you detailed information about each disability and how to treat it.
We must ask you to contact your local social services, to find information in your language on the internet about specific problems and treatments, or to contact organizations designed for helping children with the specific problem in question. Sometimes a school teacher or health nurse can help you.
However, we can give you some general guidelines for your work.