How do parents navigate care for their children with disabilities and other needs? What is the support available, and how do US and other systems compare?
First, when talking about "disabilities" we run into immediate issues with definition. Are we talking about physical impairments or problems that are long term or permanent? What about those autistic spectrum children who may be abnormally "gifted" in some areas and need special teaching help? This is why the term "special needs" is usually preferred.
Even under this umbrella, there is a bewildering range of conditions to be addressed. On the physical front, special needs children may have anything from food allergies to terminal illnesses.
In developmental terms, the range can extend from delays that need catch up help to those that will stay irreversibly entrenched, and with causes that extend from mild learning disabilities to profound cognitive impairment.
Emotionally, too, special needs can range all the way from occasional panic attacks to severe psychiatric problems.
Still, the designation is useful for setting achievable goals, achieving understanding within families and for obtaining desperately needed help.