Surprising Study Results for Kids with Disabilities

Enabled Kids is attending the Health and Wellbeing in Developmental Disabilities Two-Day Conference (HWDD) starting today at the Eaton Chelsea Hotel in downtown Toronto. We will be bringing you live blog posts from the conference venue on Nov. 12th and 13th.

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Go4Kidds is one of the research groups funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research that presented their findings at the HWDD Conference. Go4Kidds stands for “Great Outcomes For Kids Impacted by Severe Developmental Disabilities”. The team is dedicated to studying the health, wellbeing, and social inclusion of children with severe and complex needs. They focus on intellectual disabilities together with possible physical disabilities, autism, behavioral and mental health concerns.

The large sized sample survey data they put together covered social inclusion in a broad way. Three focused in-depth studies that they performed were on family quality of life, social inclusion (from ages 6-12) and health or service system surveys (from ages 10-16).

The results of these studies were surprisingly positive. Out of parents of 419 children, only 11% say that their child is unhappy, while a great percentage of 61% say that their child is happy. When directed the question of whether their child is achieving his/her potential (the question did not ask parents to compare their children to others without developmental disabilities), 28% say that their child is achieving his/her potential.

The factors that contribute to whether children with developmental disabilities achieve their potentials include the presence of community activities, state of mental health and whether they have used hospital emergency rooms in the past year.

However, when it came to studies about social inclusion, the researchers found more negative statistics when they interviewed community leaders like girl scout brownie leaders or swimming instructors about how children with developmental disabilities were interacting in social situations. The results turned out that although there were lots of proximal opportunities with lots of other kids around, there was not a lot of interactions between the child with developmental disabilities and his/her peers.

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It was concluded that the factors that help the child participate include the school’s strategies, encouragement, level of the child’s ability and the child’s characteristics. The quality of people around the child, the environment and communication skills. It was also discovered that while community leaders were more active in letting children with developmental disabilities participate, schools did not show as much enthusiasm in this aspect.

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Dr. Barry Isaacs gives the framework for evaluating family quality of life, including individuals’ health, finances, relationships and third-party support.

The last reported aspect was on family wellbeing, where the data leaned towards the positive side: a lot of families (just under 45%) express a high burden of care for their child with developmental disabilities, but yet also express a high wellbeing level. Researchers explained that this might be due to a coping mechanism, where the parents acknowledge that the child is difficult to take care of, but they learn to cope with it.

The next steps that the research group hopes to take are to compare the data to a typical population without developmental disabilities and bring it into the public arena.

Were you at the HWDD today? What were your insights into the keynotes and workshops? Let us know by COMMENTING below!

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has written 15 articles for Enabled Kids.

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