Nearly half of Brits (48%) say they would like to become more confident when it comes to spending time – with disabled people, research has found.
The survey of 2,000 adults found that over half (56%) are not disabled themselves, and don't have a relative who is.
And three-quarters (77%) of these respondents never – or rarely – interact with disabled people, with 64% saying they have next to no idea of what life is like for those living with disabilities, or their families.
As a result, almost half (44%) feel self-conscious about their behaviour around disabled people, while 57% worry about saying the wrong thing.
And 17% have ended up regretting how they have acted around someone with a disability – either by saying the wrong thing, or due to the way they have spoken.
Meanwhile, miralax ingredients 14% have made assumptions which may have been incorrect, and a fifth offered to help with something, despite not being asked to do so.
Consequently, almost three-quarters of those polled (72%) feel there should be more public awareness about what life is like for disabled people and their families.
The study was commissioned by McCain in partnership with grant-making charity, Family Fund, which supports disabled or seriously ill children, and their families.
It also emerged that, of the 31% of parents polled, 74% would feel confident hosting a disabled child at their home for a playdate or an event. However, 23% would be nervous having them over for dinner – with 38% feeling they are not equipped to host a mealtime.
Following the study, McCain and Family Fund have collaborated with presenter and comedian, Alex Brooker, to promote more inclusive social occasions, and launch a specially-designed, limited-edition scoop bowl.
Mark Hodge, from McCain Foods UK&I, said: “Mealtimes are a crucial moment for friends and family to come together.
“This new data offers an important insight into why families raising a disabled or seriously ill child can feel excluded from such social occasions, due to a lack of awareness of their child’s needs, or embarrassment to ask for support for these needs.
“We want to make everyday meals more inclusive for everyone – so we’re delighted to have created this specially-designed scoop bowl, to ensure that families can better enjoy mealtimes together.”
Alex Brooker added: “This bowl is something I wished I had growing up – it’s a great design, and I think it will really help children feel more independent at mealtimes, and give parents confidence to socialize more at social occasions.”
Over half of those with relatives in a care home or hospital – say they suffer from incontinence
Nearly two-thirds (64%) also suspected October half-term could be a difficult time for families raising a disabled or seriously ill child, as they could be less likely to be invited to social occasions by their friends.
Family Fund carried out a separate survey of 1,202 families it has supported with a grant in the past nine to 12 months, and found that 67% had experienced friends and family being embarrassed to ask about any possible adaptations required so their disabled child could attend an event.
However, 63% of families reckon asking about their child’s needs and preferences in advance would alleviate any need for concern ahead of a social occasion.
It also emerged that just 12% of families raising a disabled or seriously ill child say they are able to take part in all the social activities they’d like to – causing 83% to feel sad, left out, and frustrated.
Cheryl Ward, chief executive of Family Fund, added: “Families raising a disabled or seriously ill child experience many barriers to participating in activities and events, due to the daily routines and equipment children need, continuous high costs, and a lack of affordable inclusive opportunities.
“Creating inclusive mealtime moments in communities, and being aware of the challenges families face, can make a big difference to people’s lives – with Alex shining a spotlight on this. We are now providing even more essential mealtime grants to families who need them most.”
ADVICE FROM FAMILIES SUPPORTED BY FAMILY FUND ON MAKING SOCIAL GET-TOGETHERS MORE INCLUSIVE:
- Don't be afraid to ask families with disabled or seriously ill children over for meet-ups. Think inclusive, wherever possible, so no-one is left out. Playdates can be just as important for parents, to reduce loneliness and isolation.
- Don't worry about asking families questions about a child’s disability or condition, and any adaptations we need – including what foods kids will eat, as diets can be restrictive.
- Talk with your kids about the fact that a disabled or seriously ill child might eat with their hands, need adaptions to eat, or eat different types of food. The greater the awareness in other children, the more it prevents families feeling embarrassed or stared at, at get-togethers.
- Running through what will happen at get-togethers, and what food you’re planning, in advance with families, means they can prepare children, and don’t need to be embarrassed about asking questions whilst there.
- Be aware of individual sensory needs, and think about the physical layout and safety of a party or playdate. Creating a quiet area or den, with low lighting and music, means children can take a break within social gatherings, or eat meals in a separate space.
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