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What Disabilities Affect Canada’s Kids?

August 06, 2014

Could-You-Be-a-Special-Needs-EducatorDo you think there is a greater number of children with disabilities in Canada today than there was, say, 100 years ago? 

While it may seem natural for people to develop disabilities as they age, it is another story to watch children develop disabilities early in their young lives.

In Canada, of children aged 15 years and younger, 3.7 per cent have disabilities. The disabilities that affect this percentage of youths are varied. Beyond physical and mental impairments, learning disabilities plague many of Canada’s kids.

Let’s explore what disabilities are specifically affecting Canada’s kids.

Disabilities in children aged 0 to 4 are often unidentifiable.

Did you know that disabilities in kids aged 4 and under can be quite difficult to diagnose? The reason for this is that children in this age group develop at different rates. Additionally, “Disability in young children can often be described only as a certain delay in development, whether physical, intellectual or other.”

Of the disabilities that can be measured in children of this age group, the most dominant is developmental delay.

“Chronic health conditions” most often plague youths aged 0 to 14.

In fact, of all children with disabilities, 65 per cent have “one or more” chronic health conditions (this equals about 118,000 youths). One of the most common of these conditions is asthma.

What about kids aged 5 to 14?

Canadian children aged 5 to 14 most commonly deal with learning disabilities. “In 2001, over 100,000 children aged 5 to 14, or 2.6% of all children in that age group, were reported to have learning disabilities. This represented 64.9% of children with disabilities in the 5 to 14 age group.” An interesting side note is that there is a higher rate of males with these disabilities than females.

Learning disabilities encompass many problems related to learning in areas like speaking (dysphasia/aphasia), reasoning, math (dyscalculia), listening, reading (dyslexia), and writing (dysgraphia) are common types of learning disabilities.. These learning-related problems do not have to do with a child’s level of intelligence. On the contrary, children with learning disabilities are typically quite intelligent. So what’s the problem? Why can’t they seem to learn like other kids their age? Because their minds work differently that others’ minds.

Severe disabilities affect about 1.4 per cent of Canadian children.

Of children aged 0 to 14, 1.4 per cent have a severe disability. Males tend to have higher rates of severe disabilities than females. Males also seem to have higher rates of activity limitations that females.

While there are not as many children affected by disabilities as the older population, disability still has a bearing on the lives of young people. Those who are increasing awareness of children and disabilities are doing something to help Canada’s young disability community. Strive to learn more about the disabilities that affect children to become more aware and encourage awareness in others.

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