Rather, each is a sister, brother or friend who has a favourite dish, song or game; a daughter or son with dreams and the desire to fulfil them; a child with a disability who has the same rights as any other girl or boy. Given opportunities to flourish as others might,children with disabilities have the potential to lead fulfilling lives and to contribute to the social, cultural and economic vitality of their communities – as the personal essays in this volume attest.
Yet surviving and thriving can be especially difficult for children with disabilities. They are at greater risk of being poor than peers without disabilities. Even where children share the same disadvantages – of poverty or membership in a minority group, say – children with disabilities confront additional challenges as a result of their impairments and the many barriers that society throws in their way. Children living in poverty are among the least likely to enjoy the benefits of education and health care, for example, but children who live in poverty and have a disability are even less likely to attend their local school or clinic.
In many countries, responses to the situation of children with disabilities are largely limited to institutionalization, abandonment or neglect.