d/Deaf and disabled children and young people face the same risks as all children and young people, but they are at greater risk of some types of abuse.
It’s essential that sport or activity providers create a supportive and welcoming culture for all children, safe from harm and a place where they can thrive. First and foremost, you should consider the child or young person first, and any ‘disability’ is secondary.
You don't need to understand every aspect of a person’s specific disability, condition or sensory need, however you should consider their particular needs when planning your activity. It’s important to have an awareness and understanding of the challenges that individual may face and this guidance will help you.
What does disability really mean?
You’ll probably encounter some of the terminology below when working with disabled children and young people, so familiarising yourself with the language used is important.
We’re using the term ‘disabled children’ to refer to children and young people with a range of very different conditions and identities, some of whom may not identify as being disabled. This includes children and young people who:
- are d/Deaf
- are neurodiverse, such as being on the autistic spectrum or having attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
- have a learning disability
- have a physical disability such as cerebral palsy
- have visual impairment
- have a long-term illness
Awareness and understanding
Everyone who is responsible for, or in contact with, children and young people should think about how they can better equip themselves to be able to support and recognise concerns when working with children and young people with disabilities.
It is important to understand why signs or indicators of abuse may be overlooked when a child has a disability. Aspects of an individual’s disability or needs may make it harder for indictors of abuse to be recognised. Also, possible signs or indicators could be interpreted as a characteristic of the child’s disability and possible abuse may be overlooked, leaving the child at risk.
Learn more about child abuse in a sport setting and some other signs to look out for in the sport and activity environment.
Possible barriers for disabled children when taking part in sport
The vast majority of disabled children and young people are able and willing to participate in sport when they have access to facilities and appropriately trained staff to support them.
Some common challenges that disabled children and young people may face when getting involved in sport include:
- lack of positive early experiences in sport and physical activity
- the sport or activities lack of understanding and awareness of how to be inclusive
- limited opportunities and programmes for participation, training and competition
- lack of accessible facilities or equipment
- limited accessible transportation
- limiting psychological and sociological factors including attitudes towards disability from parents, coaches, teachers and disabled people
- limited availability to information and resources in accessible formats
For further information on protecting disabled children and young people, including the risks and vulnerability factors, legislation and guidance, visit the NSPCC Learning website.