It is a fundamental principle that disabled children have the same right as non-disabled children to be protected from harm and abuse. However in order to ensure that the welfare of disabled children is safeguarded and promoted, it needs to be recognised that additional action is required. This is because disabled children have additional needs related to physical, sensory, cognitive and/or communication requirements and many of the problems they face are caused by negative attitudes, prejudice and unequal access to things necessary for a good quality of life.
Research evidence suggests that disabled children are at increased risk of abuse and neglect, and that the presence of multiple disabilities appears to increase the risk of both abuse and neglect, yet they are underrepresented in safeguarding systems. Disabled children can be abused and neglected in ways that other children cannot and the early indicators suggestive of abuse and neglect can be more complicated than for disabled children.
Whilst the practice guidance does not identify specific groups of disabled children, particular reference is made to children with speech, language and communication needs. This includes those who use non-verbal means of communication as well a wider group of children who have difficulties communicating with others.
The guidance emphasises the critical importance of communication with disabled children including recognising that all children communicate preferences if asked in the right way by those who understand their needs and have the skills to listen to them.
Please click here to read more about the Cambridgeshire LSCB Safeguarding Disabled Children Practice Guidance.