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Children with disabilities eligibility criteria

As defined in the Equality Act 2010 a disabled person is someone who has a physical or mental impairment, and that impairment has a long term adverse effect on the person’s ability to carry out normal day to day activities.

As defined in the Equality Act 2010 a disabled person is someone who has a physical or mental impairment, and that impairment has a long term adverse effect on the person’s ability to carry out normal day to day activities. This definition is the basis for determining whether or not a child should be regarded as disabled.
Examples are physical or mental impairments which might (depending on the individual’s circumstances) fulfill the criteria for a disabled child, which are:

  • Multiple and complex health needs
  • A significant learning disability
  • Autism (Autistic Spectrum Disorder) and Communication Disorders with significant impairment of communication or intellectual functioning
  • Special sensory impairments: hearing loss, visual impairments, deaf-blind etc
  • A chronic physical illness
  • Significant pre-school developmental delay
  • The child would usually meet the eligibility thresholds for DLA
  • The need for a carer's assessment should be carefully considered in such cases.

However the following conditions would not normally lead to the child being considered as disabled, but rather as having additional needs:

  • Emotional and behavioural difficulties that are not due to one of the areas listed above (this includes ADHD)
  • Mental health conditions
  • Dyslexia
  • Dyspraxia
  • Speech and language difficulties.

The decision about whether a child is disabled within Lewisham is always based on a consideration of the impact on the child of their needs and condition, and not purely on the basis of whether the child has or does not have a particular diagnosis.

If a child does not meet these criteria they may nevertheless be a child in need, for reasons other than their disability.

Other definitions of disability are included in the following legislation and guidance:

  • The Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act 1979
  • Disabled Persons (Services Consultation and Representation) Act 1986;
  • Children Act 1989
  • Disability Discrimination Act 1995
  • Education Act 1996
  • Together from the Start Guidance (2003).

There are other legislation and guidance highlighting the assessment and support needs of children with disabilities include:

  • Children and Young Person’s Act (2008)
  • Children and Families Act (2014)
  • Working Together to Safeguard Children 2015.

The children with disabilities team recognises the importance that disabled children are supported to remain safely and happily with their family and can benefit from activities within the community. The assessed impact of their disability should determine the level and nature of the support they need to enable this to happen.