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Disabled boy in wheelchair with family outdoors on sunny day.

Taking a Life-course approach to childhood disability

It has always been the case that children with neurodisabilities grow up to be adults with those same conditions. However, because they are first recognized in infancy and childhood, conditions like CP, autism, intellectual disability and so on have traditionally been seen as ‘childhood’ disorders. A longstanding but poorly understood aspect of the ‘disability story’ has been what happens in the adult lives of these ‘former children’.

One of the current perspectives on ‘childhood disability’ is to take a ‘life-course’ approach to our work with even very young children and families. Clinical and research activities are increasingly striving both to learn – from the horse’s mouth! – about the successes and challenges faced by adults with child-onset impairments, and to feed these lessons back to the clinical services provided to young children and their families. Closing this loop may help professionals provide more informed counselling to families of children, and may allow families to see their children’s and family’s journey in a new light.  Materials in this section of the website will address what we know and what we need to learn to accommodate the reality of a life-course view of ‘childhood’ disability.