Research from the Disabled Children’s Partnership exposes that most disabled children still cannot access life-changing health appointments and vital therapies as a result of lockdown. This cannot go on, and there are calls for a COVID-19 recovery plan for disabled children.
Disabled children deserve better. The Disabled Children’s Partnership research exposes a huge gap in support. Lessons clearly haven’t been learnt from previous lockdowns.
The excerpts from the survey shown below, as well as the quotes from families, show how far disabled children have been left behind during this longest of lockdowns. There is a link to the full report at the end of this blog post.
“Cancelled operation twice. Complete stop to physio support.”
“Incontinence service has been cancelled twice.”
“Developed agonizing complication/comorbid condition to his main disability, no specialists have been available to see him, left in agony for five weeks before the episode subsided, then finally received a scan four months later…”
“My son had an intensive physiotherapy programme 3 days a week and hydrotherapy once per week. He has had NONE of this place.”
“All NHS physiotherapy and speech and language therapy (SALT) has been pulled.”
“Neither of the schools will allow visitors so SALT, CAMHS (Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service) and OT (Occupational Therapy) haven’t been able to visit.”
“No OT, HI (High Intensity therapy), sensory support etc. as professionals not allowed in school.”
The survey asked whether children were getting the support set out in section F of their Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) which specifies special educational provision that MUST be made:
515 families of children who had EHCPs responded to this question, of which:
Only 16% said yes
46% said they were getting some but not all of it
21% said they were getting none of it
17% were unsure
72% said that their child’s EHCP or SEN support plan had been negatively affected by COVID
77% said that their child’s educational attainment had been affected by COVID
“Our children are unseen victims of the pandemic in so many ways…”
“Medicine became unavailable and had to be changed mid-lockdown. It didn’t agree with him and he reacted badly, still affecting him now and other meds/conditions also affected.”
“My child has regressed irretrievably; I despair he will ever be able to catch up.”
“Along with his autism diagnosis we’ve had delays to him receiving treatment for allergies (he had a reaction in June and we still haven’t been able to get him tested) and eczema.”
Families also reported additional negative impact of delays in services on their disabled child in the following areas: sleep (66%), behaviour (70%), anxiety (70%), loneliness (65%)
“My son has become mentally unwell and has been struggling to engage in anything.”
“CAMHS have just left us to get on with it.”
“It’s been absolute hell.”
The Disabled Children’s Partnership is backing calls for an ambitious and funded catch-up plan can help set this right. To find out more or to see the whole report, visit: https://disabledchildrenspartnership.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/The-Longest-Lockdown.pdf
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Images and some script © The Disabled Children’s Partnership, of which this writer is a partner.
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