The Covid-19 pandemic has caused an even greater risk of mental health issues for both disabled children and their families.
This is according to a new study from the Disabled Children’s Partnership (DCP), a coalition of more than 80 organisations campaigning for improved health and social care for disabled children, young people and their families.
The survey – the second of its kind from DCP – reveals that disabled children and their families are at an increased risk of isolation and loneliness at this time.
This is expected to be the major factor in an increase in anxiety, depression and other mental health issues.
The DCP wrote in a summary of the report: “Over 90% of disabled children are socially isolated, with 49% of disabled children not seeing a friend in the last month either online or in person. This sadly isn’t limited to children, with three in five parents also socially isolated.”
About half of parents reported that their children’s social skills had suffered as a result of this isolation.
The DCP continued: “On average six out of ten parents are observing symptoms associated with anxiety. 72% of parents report that their child is often unhappy, downhearted or tearful.
“Their siblings are also affected with a high proportion of parents reporting that their other children are having negative issues regarding sleep and anxiety.”
This was from a survey of 547 parents, 29% of whom were from families currently shielding.
One anonymous parent commented: “My own long Covid effects on sleep and limb aches and pains are awful. I can only presume my disabled non- verbal son feels the same and it explains partly his very challenging behaviour.
“Shielding him at home is a living nightmare – he has hit out in frustration fracturing his hand twice in different places. Subsequent treatment lead to very challenging behaviour itself.
“He doesn’t understand why he cannot go anywhere and I absolutely feel for him. He must think we are being very cruel. I certainly feel like I am.”
DCP hopes that its research will convince the UK Government that a recovery plan for families with disabled children is needed.