Sample Health Care Review Paper on Cerebral Palsy and Down syndrome Needs to Assistive Technology for Education and Communication

Abstract

Given opportunities, children with Cerebral Palsy and Down syndrome disabilities can flourish in education and life activities just like other normal children. These children have the ability of fulfilling all of their life dreams, goals, and contribute constructively to the social, cultural, and economic expectation of the society. Though they are surviving, most of them are currently undergoing difficulties in areas such as healthcare, education, and social services. Consequently, children with Cerebral Palsy and Down syndrome disabilities have limited opportunities to participate in family and society life. Therefore, it is important to ensure that children with disabilities flourish by ensuring that they access assistive technology to aid in their daily life activities. Assistive technology comprises all products and related accessories that improve the function of children with Cerebral Palsy and Down syndrome disabilities and thus assist them enjoy life and achieve as per expectations. To help improve access to assistive technology, all stakeholders must maintain high level standards while assessing the unique needs of children with disabilities. The paper investigates the unique needs of children with disabilities and how assistive technology can be useful. It recommends that stakeholders must estimate the needs and ascertain how assistive resources can be distributed. Further, there is need do formulate and implement policies aimed at addressing the needs of children with disabilities.

Cerebral Palsy and Down syndrome Needs to Assistive Technology for Education and Communication

Introduction

Technology makes work easier as it speeds up and necessitates the completion of tasks and activities in almost all life activities. Children with disabilities who experience daily exclusions and difficulties in health, education, and social services require assistive technology to help them cope with life challenges. Studies reveal that life characterized by isolation and exclusion may impact negatively on children, and these effects may last for a lifetime thereby affecting the ability of a child to secure employment in future and participate actively in society (Roper & Reeves, 2006). Therefore, assistive technologies and services can potentially enable children with Cerebral Palsy and Down syndrome disabilities to participate actively in community development and contribute immensely as per expectations.

 Assistive technologies for children with Cerebral Palsy and Down syndrome disabilities include products and related services that assist in the improvement in the functioning of such children. Studies have elaborated that these make it possible for child development and healthcare management, thus ensuring effective participation in all life activities just like their normal counterparts (Areias et al., 2011). For instance, assistive technologies improve communication, mobility of children, self-care, education, and family obligations and activities. Therefore, assistive technology is a vital ingredient that aids children with disability to fulfill their obligations and achieve life goals.

Methods

For this review, scientific and medical manuscripts databases were conducted through PubMed, educational literature, and Web search. This was conducted regarding the state of education and communication of children with these two types of disability. To ensure precision, several guidelines of statements and findings from different research documents were taken into account. Further, a ranking of materials and documents retrieved from various databases was done. Parameters such as difficulty in learning, assistive technology, education, communication, needs for assistive technology and strategies for improvement were taken into account during searching, retrieval, and review. An extensive review was thoroughly conducted to filter only those that were relevant for the course of establishing the need for assistive technology by children with disabilities and impacts on education and communication. After that, all the reviews, documents, and research materials were integrated into the literature review to help highlight on the nature of disabilities and how assistive technology can be instrumental in improving the quality of life.

Results

Upon review of various literature, it was realized that children with disabilities entailed those with long-term physical, mental, and intellectual impairments that hinder their active participation in societal matters. Survey data in the United States reveal that close to 500,000 children under the age of 18 years currently have Cerebral Palsy (Radabaugh, 2014). This, therefore, means that every two or three children in a population sample of 1,000 have Cerebral Palsy translating to a yield rate of 2.3 per 1,000 children. Further, the studies reveal that approximately 10,000 children born in the United States annually develop Cerebral Palsy, while approximately 1,200 to 1,500 preschool-aged children are diagnosed per year with Cerebral Palsy (WHO, 2014). On the other hand, Down syndrome has continued to be one of the common chromosomal disorders. Studies elaborate that approximately 6,000 babies born in the United States exhibit this disorder, which translates to about 1 child for every 700 babies born (WHO, 2012). WHO reported that approximately 93 million children aged less than 14 years surveyed across the world live with moderate or severe disability (WHO, 2014).

Articles reviewed elaborated that children with disabilities also have their rights spelled out. Most of these rights stipulate that children have rights related to assistive technology. Consequently, most regulations and conventions avow that children with disabilities have the right of access to assistive technology that would enhance and improve their life activities of education and communication (Millan et al., 2010). These rights are well explained by CRC that encompasses the rights of protection, survival, rehabilitation, education, expression, and access to vital information. The articles affirm that children with disabilities are entitled access to support devices that are aimed at motivating and urging them to participate in educational activities in a more dignified way (Hauge et al., 2015). Thus, they have the right to access free specialized care whenever possible, while such assistance should be aimed at ensuring effective access to education, health services, and improved communication capability.

Several articles predominantly mention that children with Cerebral Palsy and Down syndrome disabilities experience several barriers as they try to achieve educational goals and communication. Researchers reveal that these barriers are in the form of extreme inequalities and intimidating challenges that affect their academic, social, and societal participation (Reinkensmeyer & Boninger, 2011). Studies reveal that girls are more prone to discrimination in school compared to boys as depicted by their inability to complete school as a result of facing difficulties (Lyle et al., 2004). Moreover, according to various research conducted, approximately 20% of children with Cerebral Palsy and Down syndrome disabilities are more likely to be unemployed in future (Lyle et al., 2004). Furthermore, it has been established that families with members with disability are likely to live below the poverty line and thus prone to extreme poverty (Lyle et al., 2004).  

Articles reviewed divulged on the definition of assistive technology, benefits, and the needs for such devices and services. In fact, the literature review established that the global need for assistive technology for children with Cerebral Palsy and Down syndrome disabilities has not been adequately quantified (Whirwind Wheelchair, 2015). “However, in the United States, it is estimated that approximately 0.5% of children with disability require prosthetic or orthotic devices, while roughly 1% require a wheelchair and almost 3% need a hearing aid” (Whirwind Wheelchair, 2015). It is believed that such needs may vary across populations of different groups due to several factors ranging from age distribution to prevalence of myriad impairments (Whirwind Wheelchair, 2015). However, WHO has estimated that only between 5 to 15% of assistive technology needs to have been implemented in developing countries (WHO, 2014). In fact, studies affirm that approximately 97% of children in the United States with disabilities that would eventually benefit from assistive technology do not have access to them (WHO, 2014). The literature review also highlighted the principles that guide the provision of assistive technology to children with needs. It is elaborated that assistive products and associated services should consistently meet the needs of children with disabilities in different environmental settings (Roper & Reeves, 2006). As a result, assistive technology and devices should be safe to use, durable, and therefore, provide proper help to those in need. Studies also elaborated that such products should be easily available, accessible, and maintainable to ensure that children with disabilities receive most of their services (UNICEF, 2013).

Discussions and Conclusion

Disability can be classified into different levels of health services, rehabilitation strategies, assistive technology services, and accessibility. Different governments have underscored the need for strategies and rights that govern children with Cerebral Palsy and Down syndrome disabilities. This is aimed at ensuring that children enjoy full life activities, access education services, and communicate freely and effectively. Moreover, such rights are critical in allowing children with disabilities to efficiently express their views on all matters affecting them in society. From the findings, it is worth noting that children with Cerebral Palsy and Down syndrome disabilities should live independently and participate in society by ensuring that they can easily access transport, information, and the communication provided to the general public (Betsy et al., 2007). All these measures, strategies, and policies are critical in promoting access to education to ensure equality in access. In the process, most children with Cerebral Palsy and Down syndrome disabilities may feel valued and become part of the society whereby their views and opinions are respected.

When children with disabilities are unable to accomplish tasks and activities effectively, they may face stigmatization in the aspect of being considered burdensome in their families. The lack of assistive technology for children Cerebral Palsy and Down syndrome disabilities may lead to greater dependency whereby families may lose extra income the moment they begin acting as primary caregivers. Furthermore, siblings of children with disabilities are also affected because they have to attend to them as caregivers thereby disrupting their education and extra-curriculum activities. The role of this provision of assistive technology to those with disabilities would address changes to the environment that potentially affects children. At the individual level, assistive technology addresses the physical, social, and attitudinal environment and may promote their participation in education and communication. Likewise, at the society level, assistive technology addresses the informal and formal structures likely to inhibit the communication of children with disabilities among family and peers.

Studies reveal that without assistive technology, it is difficult for a child to realize their full potential because it subjects them to various barriers and creates an un-conducive environment for learning and communication (Watson et al., 2010). Consequently, the lack of assistive technology for children with disabilities renders them unable to attend learning sessions, hear and understand, read books, and attend extra curriculum activities. “Assistive technology is a key element in promoting advanced inclusion of children with Cerebral Palsy and Down syndrome disabilities together with other agents such as barrier removal and personal assistance” (Watson et al., 2010). Studies further reveal that assistive technology helps children with disabilities to become mobile, communicate more effectively, see and hear better, and participate fully in learning activities (Enotes, 2017). By consistently integrating assistive technology in the daily lives of children with disabilities, individual participation and inclusion are increased in all aspects of life thus boosting their self-image, esteem, and self-worth.

Conclusion

Assistive technology is the missing link in the chain fundamentals that enable children with Cerebral Palsy and Down syndrome disabilities to lead successful lives. Moreover, the prerequisites are critical in ensuring that children with disabilities fully exercise their rights rather than being deprived of them. From the results and discussions, it is evident that children with disabilities may be viewed as burdens in families and society. They can often be discriminated to the extent of suffering physically and emotionally. Children with Cerebral Palsy and Down syndrome disabilities may undergo various frustrations thus affecting their ability to learn and communicate effectively. Among the solution presented is the provision of affordable, simple, and maintainable assistive technology that aims to bridge the gap between them and normal children.

Significance

The main significance of this review is to provide a deeper understanding of the needs and benefits of subjecting children with Cerebral Palsy and Down syndrome disabilities to assistive technology. This literature review has extensively covered on areas of needs and thereby arouses deliberations, forecasting, and appraises areas of concern on how assistive technology can be availed to those who require them. This paper is critical in establishing from the results and discussions future efforts in regards to the need for assistive technology for children with disabilities. For instance, the review has provided fundamentals as to why there is need to estimate needs of children with disabilities and map assistive technology resources in future. Consequently, this review has provided the framework through which policies and strategies can be formulated and implemented to ensure affordability of assistive technology. Lastly, since these children face discrimination in the society as established in this review, there is a need to create awareness of their rights and freedoms in future. Children with disabilities have their rights and freedoms enshrined in constitutions of different countries and are thus entitled to equal treatment in schools and society at large. When these children are given opportunities to learn and communicate comfortably they are likely to success in future and become important members of society.

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