Professor Dan Goodley and Dr. Katherine Runswick-Cole, who implemented the study at the Manchester Metropolitan University in England, found disabled children often experience discrimination, exclusion and even violence.
"The biggest barriers they meet are the attitudes of other people and widespread forms of institutional discrimination," Goodley and Runswick-Cole said in a release.
"Disabled children are seldom allowed to play and act like other children because of concerns about their 'leaky and unruly' bodies. But our study shows that many children who don't fit the narrow definition of 'normal' have untapped reserves of potential and high aspirations, which can be fulfilled when their families receive effective support."
The findings, based on a series of interviews with disabled children and their families, reveal numerous barriers including:
-- Disabled children are often perceived by educational and care professionals as "lacking" and as failing to fit in with the image of "normal."
-- Families who do not match the norm are frequently excluded from friendships, education and work.
-- The support system is complicated and there are gaps in provision.
-- Physical access and transport barriers to sport and leisure activities result in segregation, while participation in art and creative activities is limited.
-- Widespread discriminatory attitudes threaten to create a culture of bullying.
-- Families of children with life-limiting/threatening impairments often experience isolation and poverty.
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