Families with children with disabilities - inequalities and the social model

Dowling, Monica and Dolan, Linda (2001). Families with children with disabilities - inequalities and the social model. Disability and Society, 16(1) pp. 21–35.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/713662027


This article suggests that families with children with disabilities experience a range of inequalities that families wth children without disabilities do not suffer. It draws on a recent qualitative study to illustrate the ways in which it is not just disabled people, but in the case of disabled children, whole families that suffer from unequal opportunities and outcomes. We draw on the social model of disability to show that the lives of these families are often characterised by financial hardship, stress and anxiety as a result of social barriers, prejudices and poorly conceived service provision. The social model of disability is usually drawn upon to illustrate the way in which social organisatiion disables people with impairments. In this instance, we illustrate the way in which social organisation disables not just the family member who has the impairment but the whole family unit. By applying this model of disability, new ways of creating practices and policies for these families can be developed which incorporate their views into the heart of the policy-making process.

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