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Case studies: how do developmental disabilities impact a child?

A look at our four case study characters and how their impairments can impact on their life and that of their family.
An illustration of our four case study characters. One boy is sat in a chair. A girl a trying to walk with support from her mother. Another girl is drawing with her sister. A teenage boy is knitting.
© The London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine

Earlier this week, we introduced our four fictional case studies – Justin, Thandi, Mai and Lucas.

Having now learned about common developmental disabilities, impairment and their impact on child development, we’d like you to reflect on how a child’s impairment can impact on their life and that of their family. Imagine that our case study characters are entering a new health or social care situation, as described below. Think about how their impairment may impact their experience in this scenario and their lives more widely. In the comments below, discuss the relationship between their impairment and disability, and the challenges these children may face.

An illustration of a boy sitting on a wooden chair. He has a hearing aid. He is twisting in his seat to look behind him Case Study 1. Justin: Justin is six years old. He has a severe hearing impairment. He lives in the United States of America with his parents and siblings. Justin is soon joining kindergarten in a mainstream school and will be the only child with a hearing impairment in his class.

Illustration of a mother helping a young girl walk. She is supporting the girls hands as she tried to walk with a look of concentration on her face Case Study 2. Thandi: Thandi is three years old and lives in Malawi with her family. She has cerebral palsy and has difficulty walking. She wants to join in with other children in her village but struggles to join in with their games.

An illustration of two girls drawing side by side at a table Case Study 3. Mai: Mai is nine years old. She has Down Syndrome and lives in Vietnam with her mother, father and sister. Mai has recently been diagnosed with epilepsy but she doesn’t like taking medication to manage the epilepsy. She finds it difficult to understand why she needs to take it.

An illustration of a teenage boy sitting on a chair and knitting a large scarf Case Study 4. Lucas: Lucas is seventeen years old and has autism. He lives with his grandmother in Brazil. Lucas will soon turn 18 and the NGO supporting him will not be able to support him past this age. His grandmother is worried how Lucas will be able to make this transition and get a job.


For each case study, discuss the following:

  • How might the child’s impairment(s) affect their lives?
  • How might this impairment affect their ability to access healthcare services?
  • What personal or environmental factors might impact the way in which the impairments affect their lives?
  • What health and rehabilitative services may they benefit from?

Please feel free to share insights from your own experience, whether professional or personal.

© The London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine
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Integrated Healthcare for Children with Developmental Disabilities

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