Disabled children and children with special needs have exactly the same human rights to be safe from abuse and neglect, to be protected from harm and achieve the Every Child Matters outcomes as non-disabled children.

Disabled children and child with special needs require additional support because they experience greater vulnerability as a result of negative attitudes and unequal access to services and resources, and because they may have additional needs relating to physical, sensory, cognitive and/ or communication impairments. A failure to acknowledge and promote disabled children’s human rights can lead to abusive practices being seen as acceptable.

All professionals who work with Special needs and disabled children should be alert to the indicators of abuse or neglect, for example:

  • A bruise in a site that might not be of concern on an ambulant child, such as the shin, might be of concern on a non-mobile child
  • Not getting enough help with feeding leading to malnourishment
  • Poor toileting arrangements
  • Lack of stimulation
  • Unjustified and/or excessive use of restraint
  • Rough handling, extreme behaviour modification e.g. deprivation of liquid, medication, food or clothing
  • Unwillingness to try to learn a child’s means of communication
  • Ill-fitting equipment e.g. callipers, sleep boards, inappropriate splinting
  • Misappropriation of a child’s finances (for example disability living allowance)
  • Invasive procedures which are unnecessary, or are, carried out against the child’s will
  • Changes in the pattern of the child’s behaviour

In Devon and Torbay, there are a range of support services so that children and young people with SEND can be educated and enjoy social opportunities alongside their peers, in their local community.


In Devon, there is a range of support so that children and young people with SEND can be educated and enjoy social opportunities alongside their peers, in their local community.

Devon Information Advice and Support Service (DIAS), formerly Devon Parent Partnership Service, provides access to quality impartial and confidential information, advice and support, for parents, carers and young people, around all aspects of Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) for education, health and care.

DIAS work closely with Devon County Council, schools, health, social services and other agencies and voluntary organisations.

Read more about DIAS here or visit SEND Local Offer Website.

Devon information advice and support service


In Torbay, Special Educational Needs and/or Disabilities, Information Advice and Support Service (SENDIASS) provides free, confidential and impartial information, guidance and support to parents and carers or children and young people.

The service provides resources and information about the law on special educational needs and disability, as well as offering more intensive individual support and advice.

Read more about the services to offer by SENDIASS here.


Further reading:

NSPCC – ‘We have the right to be safe’ Protecting disabled children from abuse. (Miller and Brown, October 2014)