Meeting the Needs of Children with Disabilities

Reviewed by Carmel Doyle, School of Nursing and Midwifery, Trinity College, Dublin.


While the child with disability has similar needs to any child in society, he/she also has additional and unique needs requiring specialist approaches to care. The aim of this book is to highlight the principles that define the fundamental aspects of care delivery to children with special needs. Areas of knowledge and practical skills explored include: the social and historical context, challenging assumptions, best practice for giving news to parents, communication methods, play and movement, nutrition and feeding, boundary setting, respite care and transition into adult services.

The content of this book is based on practice areas identified by the English Nursing Board as essential for student nurses. However, the reviewer supports the notion that this book will actually be invaluable for qualified nurses and other health professionals working with children with disabilities in a variety of settings. The book is one of few books that separate the needs of children from those of adult, and which plans accordingly. The first four chapters are quite theoretical, exploring the fundamental needs of children with disabilities and examining the sociological, historical and ethical perspectives. While these four chapters are all important, student nurse will find the following ten chapters more interesting and practical, as they offer key constructive tips on caring for children with a disability. Warner offers some recommendations for changes and implementation of policies in organisations and health trusts. The reviewer found Chapter Eight particularly useful as it provides some concrete information important for understanding the complexities of eating and drinking for a child with disability.

In the final chapter of the book, Warner offers a summary of each chapters and key recommendations for the future. Her final words suggest there should be an emphasis on preparation for the child with disability, especially in terms of admission to respite care and preparing to meet the developing needs of the child with disability.

While this book is aimed at the UK audience and makes reference to key UK documents, framework and policies, the core issues discussed are also applicable for the Irish setting. This paperback book is well presented and concise in nature, an all-important trait that may entice the student nurse to read it. In summary, while the book would not suffice as a core text for student nurses in the Irish setting, it will provide some valuable background information and a good reference base for issues relating to the needs of children with disability.

Meeting the Needs of Children with Disabilities: Families and professional facing the challenge together, by Helen K. Warner. London, Routledge (Taylor & Francis) (2006). ISBN 0-415.28038-9.