Children With Disabilities: 15 Facts Everyone Should Know

Children With Disabilities: 15 Facts Everyone Should Know

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I recently attended a Webinar hosted by Unicef based on a new report, The State of the World’s Children 2013: Children With Disabilities. I learned more than I ever could have imagined from Cara Yar Khan, who represents Unicef in Haiti. After that discussion, Mark Engman walked us through The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), a treaty which the U.S. has been trying to ratify.

Children with Disabilities Report

The State of the World’s Children 2013: Children With Disabilities

1. The goal of this publication is to bring global attention to children with needs.

2. The focus has shifted from protection of children with disabilities to promotion of rights.

3. There are three stages to disabilities:

  • experiences impairment
  • impairment causes limitations
  • limitations leads to a restrictions such as exclusion from school

4. Different approaches that have been used:

  • Charity Model – Those with disabilities are treated as useless, dependent and a burden to society.
  • Medical Model – The disability is seen as purely a medical condition, seen by a doctor, that needs to be fixed. Labels children as abnormal.
  • Social and Human Rights Model (Unicef) – See disability as diversity and promotes equal rights and inclusion. The environment creates barriers, not the disability.

5. Terminology Matters

  • Don’t use the phrase “disabled child”, say “a child with a disability”.
  • Don’t say “suffers from a disability”, say “has a disability”.
  • Don’t compare a child with a disability with a “normal” child. Never use the word “normal” or “special” when discussing disabilities.
  • It is now politically incorrect to use the word “handicapped” because it derives from “hand to cap” which denotes begging.

6. Three Rules of Unicef

  • Mainstream Children with Disabilities in all Program.
  • Champion Disabilities
  • Promote Inclusion

7. There are 93 million children with disabilities under 15 and 80% of them live in developing countries.

8. Children with disabilities are one of the most excluded groups in the world. This needs to be addressed from a rights based approach.

9. The barriers to these children are often worse than the disability itself.

10. We need to change the social norms.  Go to the Unicef Website Children with Disabilities page to view the report or learn more about it.

Children with Disabilities Treaty

The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD)

1. CRPD is an international human rights instrument (Treaty) of the United Nations intended to protect the rights and dignity of persons with disabilities.

2. The purpose of this treaty is to promote, protect and ensure the full and equal enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms by all persons with disabilities, and to promote respect for their inherent dignity.

3. The best reason for the U.S. to become part of the treaty is so that we can be a leader in helping other countries that are much less advanced in dealing with children with disabilities.

4. Why isn’t the United States a party to this treaty yet? The UN passed it, the President signed it. However it takes 2/3 of the Senate to ratify it. Why would anyone not want to ratify it? It seems that there are a bunch of Republican Senators that seem to think that this wonderful treaty will put the UN in charge of parenting and educating our kids that are disabled. Yeah, these are the same type of senators that think you can’t get pregnant if you are raped. Here is a quote you will love from Rick Santorum – 

“CRPD threatens U.S. sovereignty and parental rights, and if ratified, it would effectively put us under International law when it comes to parenting our special needs children…” 

5.  No treaty can trump the Constitution of the United States.

Children with Disabilities Webcast

What can we do? Make a personal commitment to not see the disability – see the child. Go to the U.S. International Council on Disabilities and help ratify CRPD. CRPD is a global treaty that Unicef has a hand in implementing.

See also:
How to Protect Our Families Against Harmful Chemicals

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  1. Wow, this is very interesting. A lot of this I did not know. I have a cousin with Downs Syndrome and I am now glad to know about the proper terminology.

  2. What a great post! I am a special education teacher and love doing anything I can to spread awareness.

  3. This is good information to know! Thanks for sharing.

  4. Whenever I encounter a disabled child or person, I try to treat them as I would any other person. I’ve always heard from them (when I had students) that they didn’t want any special treatment, and if they wanted/needed anything, they would immediately ask for it!

  5. Hi Jennifer,

    A noble cause with dedicated efforts. Yes, we all need to join hands with each other to accept the way these special children are and it is none of their fault.

    It needs a positive approach from the society to help them grow and nurture but unluckily, the things are developing quite slowly. The society needs a complete overhauling in their thought process.

    Thanks for sharing such a touching topic.

  6. This is a great list. Thanks so much for sharing. 🙂

  7. Very interesting post. I’ll have to find out more about this proposed treaty. I hadn’t heard of it!


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