Nearly three-quarters of families with disabled children have experienced anxiety, depression or family breakdown, according to the latest research by Contact a Family.
A survey of over 1,100 families, published today, found almost half had asked their GP for medication or counselling, while 65% said they felt isolated frequently or all of the time. One in five said feelings of isolation had even destroyed their family or marriage.
Over half (56%) said their feelings of isolation were due to a lack of support from social services and the education system, while 57% believed it was because they could not work as much as they wanted to and 54% blamed a lack of time and money.
Half of the families said they had experienced discrimination or stigma due to their child’s disability.
Srabani Sen, chief executive of Contact a Family, said isolation is having a “devastating” impact on the well being of many families with disabled children. She urged councils to provide more early intervention services, including support groups and short breaks.
“We are extremely concerned that this is going to get worse in the current economic climate… Families are fearful about this situation, which will lead to further stress, isolation and poor mental health.
“Effective early intervention services and financial help allow families with disabled children to take control of their lives, hold down a job, be more involved in their community and feel less isolated. They also ensure that disabled children can participate fully in society and enjoy fun social opportunities,” she said.
Lorraine Hockey, whose 18-year-old daughter Kassie has Rett Syndrome, said: “Caring has impacted heavily on our daily lives and our work. We are self employed and when Kassie is unwell there is simply no option but for us to care for her leaving our business closed.
“It is difficult finding the time to be with family and friends because we are often tired and stressedand suitable childcare is extremely difficult to find. Kassie is a beautiful amazing young lady, she is worth every second of all of it, but we do need some proper support.”
The charity wants councils to provide more early intervention services, such as key workers, children’s centres, support groups and short breaks, and ministers to protect these vulnerable families and ensure planned welfare reforms do not increase their isolation.
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