Did you know?
- One in every seven person has a disability.
- Children with disabilities are 3 times more likely to be bullied by their peers.
- 53% of children with disabilities have no friends.
- 50% people with disabilities also have mental health issues.
- 202,350 of Canadian children under 15 have one or more disabilities (PALS 2006) - up from 154,000 reported in the 2001
- 19% of children with activity limitations live in a low-income household
- 40% of parents reported that they don’t know where to look for information
- Last year 2000 young adults accessed the mental health module of Ability Online.
Our children are experiencing increasing levels of pressure and stress at much younger ages. More Canadian children are exhibiting signs of mental distress as a result of anxiety, bullying, low self-esteem & insecurity (Dr. K. Leith 2007). Young people with disabilities often have a hard time making friends. They are bullied more than their peers, and don’t have the same opportunities to develop skills that will improve the quality of their lives, increase independence, or be considered as valued members of society. Youth with disabilities and their families need to be better connected to networks of personal and professional support” (Dr. Anne Snowdon, 2013).
40-50% of youth with ASD have an anxiety disorder, & with huge waiting lists, there is a need for our service. Parents of kids with ASD & anxiety experience a significant amount of stress themselves and need mental health resources too.
Ability Online has over 6400 registered members of whom 5441 are children, teens or young adults (7-25 years of age). Ability Online has 1,800 teen members (23% of all registered members) with all kinds of disabilities including physical (e.g. cerebral palsy 11% of teen members, spina bifida 2%), cognitive (brain injuries 4%, learning disabilities), developmental (Autism 58% of teen members!), intellectual (PDD NOS) and now emotional (depression, anxiety, ADHD 6% of teen members). Fifteen percent of teen members have a chronic illness such as Cystic Fibrosis or Lupus. Members range in age from 13-18 years. For gender divisions, 47% of the teen members are females and 53% are males. Members come from across Canada from large urban centres and smaller rural communities (anywhere there is access to the Internet).
The greatest barriers to inclusion of children with disabilities are stigma, prejudice, ignorance and lack of training and capacity building (Unicef 2013). We believe the Ability Online monitored and supportive online community is best positioned to tackle these barriers and better connect children and youth with disabilities and their families to networks of personal and professional support.