GLASGOW has been named as one of the areas in the UK with the highest percentages of children with disabilities, with local families often facing major deprivation, a charity has warned.
Contact said disabled children and their families often face major disadvantages with 5.8 per cent of children in the city having some form of disability.
Contact, which works with the families of disabled children, named Glasgow, along with Dundee and Inverclyde, as Leeds University used official data to build a comprehensive profile of half a million households in the UK with a disabled child.
Miriam Gwynne from Hamilton is among those who have had to give up work, due to the needs of her nine-year old twins Isaac and Naomi, both disabled.
She said: “I have a degree and have run my own business in the past but even part-time work is now out of the question. I have no option but to rely on benefits as I need to be here for both my husband and the children.
“After school care is not an option for children like mine and no employer would be able to give me all the time I need to attend to the needs of those I care for.
“Financially it is a huge struggle, especially at times like Christmas.”
Disabled children are twice as likely to live in families where there is no parent in paid work, 34% compared to 17% of non-disabled children. This may be partly because one in five parent carers have to leave jobs to manage their caring responsibilities.
Disabled children are also more likely to live in households with no access to a car, in a home with no central heating and in overcrowded accommodation.
Contact is calling for the families of children with disabilities to be made a priority when the Scottish Government sets new child poverty targets.
Susan Walls, Contact manager in Scotland, said: “There is an unacceptable and marked difference between the quality of life and social and leisure opportunities available to disabled children and their families compared to those without disabilities in terms of housing, their economic situation and their employment status.
“This means parent carers are more likely to be managing on a low income, struggling without a car or central heating.
“Following the Scottish Parliament’s unanimous vote to set child poverty targets, our report makes clear that families with disabled children must be a priority because they are particularly vulnerable to living in poverty.
“Today we are calling on the Scottish Government to tackle the never-ending cycle of disadvantage.”
Isaac has severe autism, is non-verbal and has global development delay. He also has neurofibromatosis – a condition in which tumours grow on the nerves, a brain tumour and a visual impairment.
Naomi has severe anxiety, autism and an eating disorder. Miriam’s husband Nigel also has autism and neurofibromatosis.
Miriam added: “It would help so much to have more support and better acknowledgement of my role as carer in addition to parenting.”