'Disablism' could shape the future for young people with a disability

July 24, 2012, University of Sydney

(Medical Xpress) -- A new study led by the University of Sydney hopes to shed light on how the experiences of young Australians with a disability are shaped by discrimination.

The study, titled Disability and Ability: How young people with impairments make the transition to adulthood, will follow the of 100 aged between 19 and 26 years of age over three years.

"We already know from recent research by our colleagues that, compared to their able-bodied , 15 to 29-year-olds with a long-term or impairment have an increased risk of negative social, physical and mental health outcomes," says chief investigator Dr Nikki Wedgwood, of the University's Faculty of Health Sciences.

"We also know from previous research that this is less likely due to their impairment per se and more likely due to the fact that people with impairments are commonly perceived differently to able-bodied people and so experience lower levels of inclusion in society generally."

towards people with impairments — also known as 'disablism' — can have a profound impact on the lives of people with impairments.

"We tend to think of people with impairments as 'that' person with a disability rather than that student or that parent or that musician and so on, and so we tend to treat them differently - we might avoid them, or they might just be socially invisible to us," says Dr Wedgwood.

"As such, disablism affects their sense of belonging and levels of inclusion in virtually every aspect of life, from peer acceptance at school, to employment, marriage and other relationships," she says.

"Employers will tend to assume people with impairments can't do a lot of things when they actually can, and they tend to receive a lot of pity instead of friendship, and discrimination instead of inclusion."

Researchers hope the findings from the study will inform policy to help ensure that more of the 250,000 young with impairments are able to meet the developmental and structural challenges of early adulthood and become fully included members of society.

"We know that adolescence is a vital developmental phase in able-bodied people - a real make or break time in terms of what role a person will play in society or on its margins - so it is likely to be the optimal time for interventions in the lives of people with impairments."

Adolescence and 'emerging adulthood' are neglected in terms of disability research, with most studies focusing either on adulthood or childhood.

The University of Sydney is hoping to expand evidence-based knowledge in areas such as this through its new Centre for Disability Research and Policy, which aims to influence policy and practice to make a lasting difference in the lives of people with . The study is funded by the Australian Research Council and is being carried out in collaboration with Deakin University.

Explore further: Reverse inclusion and the question of disability

Related Stories

Reverse inclusion and the question of disability

January 17, 2012
Wheelchair basketball: It's a fast, skillful game, dazzling to watch, gruelling to play. It's also a sport that in Canada has become one of the most inclusive, welcoming athletes with disability and able-bodied athletes alike ...

Study compares traits of autism, schizophrenia

February 27, 2012
(Medical Xpress) -- A UT Dallas professor is studying the differences between the social impairments found in autism and schizophrenia to help develop better treatments for people with both disorders.

Teachers need greater awareness of language disorders

May 19, 2011
Greater awareness of 'specific language impairment' (SLI), a language disorder, is needed to ensure better outcomes for the 3-6 per cent of UK school children affected by this disability. Children with SLI have difficulties ...

Early-life exposure to chemical in drinking water may affect vision, study finds

July 11, 2012
Prenatal and early childhood exposure to the chemical solvent tetrachloroethylene (PCE) found in drinking water may be associated with long-term visual impairments, particularly in the area of color discrimination, a new ...

Recommended for you

Women run faster after taking newly developed supplement, study finds

January 19, 2018
A new study found that women who took a specially prepared blend of minerals and nutrients for a month saw their 3-mile run times drop by almost a minute.

Americans are getting more sleep

January 19, 2018
Although more than one in three Americans still don't get enough sleep, a new analysis shows first signs of success in the fight for more shut eye. According to data from 181,335 respondents aged 15 and older who participated ...

Wine is good for you—to a point

January 18, 2018
The Mediterranean diet has become synonymous with healthy eating, but there's one thing in it that stands out: It's cool to drink wine.

Sleep better, lose weight?

January 17, 2018
(HealthDay)—Sleeplessness could cost you when it's time to stand on your bathroom scale, a new British study suggests.

Who uses phone apps to track sleep habits? Mostly the healthy and wealthy in US

January 16, 2018
The profile of most Americans who use popular mobile phone apps that track sleep habits is that they are relatively affluent, claim to eat well, and say they are in good health, even if some of them tend to smoke.

Improvements in mortality rates are slowed by rise in obesity in the United States

January 15, 2018
With countless medical advances and efforts to curb smoking, one might expect that life expectancy in the United States would improve. Yet according to recent studies, there's been a reduction in the rate of improvement in ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.