Physical Disabilities

Children with physical disabilities may have problems with gross or fine motor skills, balance and co-ordination, or muscle tone. They may need extra help and support with everyday activities like walking, feeding themselves or holding a pencil.


Physical Disability

A physical disability is any condition that permanently prevents normal body movement and/or control. There are many different types of physical disabilities. Some of the main ones include:


Muscular dystrophies

When a child has muscular dystrophy, this means that the muscle fibres in the body gradually weaken over time. Children can have different types of muscular dystrophy. The most common type is Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy which occurs only in boys. All types of muscular dystrophy are genetic even though other family members may not have the condition.


Acquired brain and spinal injuries

Physical disabilities may result from permanent injuries to the brain, spinal cord or limbs that prevent proper movement in parts of the body.


Spina Bifida

  • Sometimes, a baby's spinal cord (the nerves that run down the spine) do not develop normally during pregnancy. When this happens, the child can have a physical disability called spina bifida. The type and amount of disability caused by spina bifida will depend upon the level of the abnormality of the spinal cord. Children with spina bifida may have:
  • partial or full paralysis of the legs
  • difficulties with bowel and bladder control.

They may also have:

  • hydrocephalus (high pressure on the brain because of fluid not being drained away as normal)
  • bone and joint deformities (they may not grow normally)
  • curvature (bending) of the spine.


Cerebral palsy

Cerebral palsy is caused by damage to the parts of the brain which control movement during the early stages of development. In most cases, this damage occurs during pregnancy. However, damage can sometimes occur during birth and from brain injuries in early infancy (such as lack of oxygen from near drowning, meningitis, head injury or being shaken).

Children with cerebral palsy may have difficulties with:

  • posture (the ability to put the body in a chosen position and keep it there)
  • movement of body parts or the whole body
  • muscle weakness or tightness
  • involuntary muscle movements (spasms)
  • balance and coordination
  • talking and eating.


Children can have different types of cerebral palsy:

  • hemiplegia (involves muscle movements and weakness on one side of the body)
  • diplegia (involves muscle movements and weakness in the lower part of the body)
  • quadriplegia (involves muscle movements and weakness in both arms and both legs)
  • ataxia (involves problems with balance and coordination).

There is much more about Cerebral Palsy in the booklet 'Cerebral Palsy - an information guide for parents' written for the Royal Children's Hospital (Victoria)


Multiple Disabilities

Some children with physical disabilities will have other disabilities, such as intellectual, visual or hearing impairments. They may also have communication difficulties or other medical conditions such as epilepsy or asthma. When a child has several different types of disability, professionals talk about multiple disabilities rather than listing separate conditions.


Developmental Impact

A disability, handicapping condition, or delay can affect how a child plays, the kinds of play the child engages in, and the child's ability to use play as an avenue to learning and generalising new skills or concepts. Although experiential background, personality. environment, and gender also affect how play skills develop, how children approach play, and the learning that the child takes from the play activity, children with disabilities will have distinct differences in their play. They may even need to be taught specific play skills before they can begin to learn through play.

The child may need to be taught such adaptations as how to get to materials or how to ask another child to play. Physical disabilities may affect the child's play in a variety of ways, depending on how the disability restricts movement. The child may have difficulty moving to the materials or areas available for play. They may have difficulty manipulating materials in a constructive or meaningful way. Certain conditions, such as cerebral palsy, may also restrict the use of speech.


Supporting Assessment

The EYFS framework includes two specific points for providing written assessments for parents and other professionals, when the child is aged two and when the child turns five.  We observe all children to monitor their progress across the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS). If we have a concern we follow the procedures as set out in the SEND Code of Practice 2015. The procedures form a graduated approach that recognises that all children learn in different ways and can have different kinds or levels of SEN. We recognise that parents know their children best and have a great deal to contribute. Parents’ views are valued and listened to and we operate an open door policy where parents are always welcomed. Where there is a concern we encourage parents to approach a member of staff where time will be supporting children with SEND made available to discuss any issues in a confidential and supportive environment.

We work with a range of outside professionals including Health Visitors, Early Years Help Advisors, Speech and Language Therapist, Advisory Teaching Service and Educational Psychologists to help meet the needs of individual children with SEN


How Can We Help?

It’s against the law for a childcare setting  or other education providers to treat disabled children unfavourably. This includes:

  • ‘direct discrimination’, eg refusing admission to a child because of disability
  • ‘indirect discrimination’, eg only providing application forms in one format that may not be accessible
  • ‘discrimination arising from a disability’, eg a disabled child is prevented from going outside at break time because it takes too long to get there
  • ‘harassment’, eg a childcare practitioner shouts at a disabled student for not paying attention when the child’s disability stops them from easily concentrating

At Learning land Nursery we have a duty to make ‘reasonable adjustments’ to make sure disabled children are not discriminated against. These changes could include:

  • changes to physical features, eg creating a ramp so that children can enter the setting
  • providing extra support and aids (like specialist teachers or equipment)

Further Information and Support

Association for Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus:


Association of Wheelchair Children:


British Council of Disabled People:


Council for Disabled Children:



We're here for you:

Tel: 01900 601222


Opening hours

Monday - Friday

08:00 - 18:00 

Closed Bank Holidays


Please also use our contact form


Learning Land Nursery

65 Derwent Street


CA14 2DW


Learning Land Nursery will be closed for the following bank Holidays Friday 19th April 2019 and Monday 22nd April 2019 sorry for any inconvenience this may cause.

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