Parenting Disabled Black Children

This group aims to provide information for parents with black children with special needs.  It also also aims to provide a forum for families with black disabled children to seek mutual support and open discussion around the impact of the multiple oppressions they often experience as a result of dealing with special needs as well as racism.

Special Needs

Special needs is an umbrella term which covers a very wide range of health, disabilities and developmental conditions.   

Families with children with special needs may have one or more child with mild learning disabilities or profound cognitive impairment; food allergies or terminal illness; developmental delays that catch up quickly or remain entrenched; occasional panic attacks or serious psychiatric problems. 

The key purpose of the term “special needs” is that it enables a family to be designated as having needs for a range of specialist support, information medical or social care.   However the term can be a bit of a blunt instrument when it comes to dealing with issues that affect black families because often agencies are set up to deal with only one issue – either disability or race – and often not both.  The impact of this can be isolating and mean that vital support and services are not offered or accessed due to stereotyping about what is or is not appropriate for disabled people who happen to be black.

Services for Black and Disabled People

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation carried out a survey of the views of Black disabled people of the services that they received. In 2005 they published the following summary of their findings. “Black disabled people have frequently found themselves falling between services for black people and services for disabled people. This divide is often mirrored in the priorities and remits of funding bodies and voluntary and statutory agencies, as well as in the gap between the disability movement and the race equality movement.”

These issues are critical to the provision of appropriate support, information and services for disabled black children and their families.  Treating disabled black children without regard to the possible impact of racism or stereotyping can lead to additional emotional issues that parents are often left to navigate without support from agencies who are supposed to help.

Common Concerns

Although every special-needs child is different and every family is unique, there are some common concerns that link parents of challenged kids, including getting an accurate diagnosis, appropriate care and accommodation; accessing health, social care or welfare benefits where appropriate;  accepting and getting used to living with your child’s condition, promoting acceptance in the extended family, school and community; planning for an uncertain future; and adjusting routines and expectations. Parents of children with special needs are often more flexible, compassionate, stubborn and resilient than other parents. They have to be.

Planning for the Future

In addition, like all parents, the task of parents of a child with special needs is to guide their child in choices that offer quality of life in all areas: medical, educational, recreational, and employment. In addition, parents must plan for their child's future. Living arrangements, insurance, and long-range financial planning are needed.

Whilst these children of school age they are entitled to have a fulfilling educational experience to enable them to reach their potential. It is unlawful for schools and other education providers to discriminate against disabled pupils, students and adult learners.  The Equality Act 2010 has increased protection for disabled learners against unfair treatment. 

Pressure on Family Life

This group also aims to provide support for parents of special needs kids in dealing with the range of issues that they can often face as a result of the extra pressure on family life.   A Netmums poll for the Sun newspaper in July 2011 found that half of parents said caring for their children had strained relationships with a partner. A further 13 per cent said a relationship had ended due to the extra stress. And 43 per cent had to give up work to look after their child.

In many ways, parenting tasks are the same for every parent. Parents of a child with special needs face the extensive decisions that all parents must make, but there are many, many more to get to the same goal … a successful, happy child.

This group aims to draw on the skills, wisdom and resilience of parents with special needs to provide a forum for mutual support as well as practical advice and information.

We only ask that users of the site are respectful of the background, lifestyle, religious beliefs and ethnicity of other users


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