Many parents depend on daycare centers to take care of their children while they are at work—trusting the caregivers to provide an appropriate standard of care. Unfortunately, children with disabilities, whether physical or developmental, are at a higher risk of abuse or neglect than children who do not have disabilities.
Signs That Your Child Might Have Intellectual or Developmental Disabilities
It’s not always easy to spot intellectual disabilities in babies, toddlers, and preschoolers because most testing does not occur until kids are between the ages of four and six. Testing is generally done in the form of an intelligent quotient (IQ) test, which measures a child’s ability to learn and to exhibit problem-solving skills.
Most parents of younger children, however, are aware of specific developmental milestones in children. If their child is not meeting them on schedule, they should speak to their pediatrician.
Some signs to watch for include:
- Your child sits up, crawls, or walks later than other children.
- Your child isn’t speaking or has trouble speaking.
- Your child has trouble solving problems.
- Your child doesn’t seem to understand social rules or has trouble seeing that their actions have consequences.
Factors That Make Children With Intellectual or Developmental Disabilities More Vulnerable to Daycare Abuse
Although there are no statistics available on the number of children with disabilities who are abused, the National Center on Child Abuse and Neglect reports that these kids are abused nearly twice as much as other children. Potential reasons for this include:
- Children with intellectual disabilities may be perceived as less valuable than other children. Caregivers might punish them more harshly because of their disability.
- Children whose disability causes behavioral issues might be punished more harshly, with caregivers blaming the child for the disability—and the behavior.
- Children with disabilities might not be able to communicate their needs to daycare workers. A child who does not cry when they have a dirty diaper might not be changed as frequently as is necessary.
- Children with an intellectual disability may not have the ability to tell anyone if they are experiencing abuse or neglect.
Types of Abuse and Neglect Parents Should Look For
Child abuse comes in four different categories: physical abuse, sexual abuse, psychological abuse, and neglect. Parents should be alert for the following signs:
- Your child’s behavior suddenly changes. For example, an abused child might suddenly become withdrawn or exhibit aggressive or regressive behaviors.
- At pickup time, your child has a wet or soiled diaper or is hungry or thirsty.
- Your child has suddenly started crying more frequently or is acting fearful of a particular daycare staff member.
- Your child suddenly has trouble sleeping or is having frequent nightmares.
- Your child shows age-inappropriate interest in sexual behaviors.
What You Should Do If You Suspect Your Child Is Being Abused at Daycare
If you suspect daycare staff members are neglecting your child with special needs, you should speak to daycare administrative staff immediately to outline your concerns. Your next step is to report the abuse to the authorities, including the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services. It is crucial to make these reports to call attention to the daycare center in case other children are also being abused.
Find other childcare arrangements and seek medical treatment for your child. A pediatrician is trained to recognize signs of abuse or neglect.
Contact The Button Law Firm
If you believe your intellectually or developmentally disabled child is being neglected or abused at daycare, The Button Law Firm can help. Give us a call to schedule a free, no-obligation initial consultation today to find out more.