Health inequalities among challenges facing people with special needs
SINGAPORE — When Mdm Jothi Marimuthu’s son, who has special needs, suffered a hairline crack on his left leg two years ago, the doctor at the accident and emergency department tried to explain his medical condition to the 22-year-old man.
Kiran Raj S Vanu has global developmental delay, an intellectual disability due to epilepsy. “(But) he was giving all these medical terms, and Kiran just stared (at the doctor),” recalled Mdm Jothi, 47.
“He doesn’t know about special-needs (persons), he’s a normal A&E doctor. So he tried to talk to Kiran like a normal person, and I told him ‘Sorry, he can’t understand what you’re trying to tell him’,” added the housewife.
Apart from a difficulty in understanding what the doctor was saying, some persons with special needs, such as Kiran, might also face difficulties expressing their pain or discomfort. Others are more susceptible to certain health conditions.
As such, providing healthcare for this group of people requires specialised training, something special-needs experts and caregivers feel is lacking here.
Mdm Jothi said the A&E doctor had also insisted that Kiran, who was later fitted with a cast, try using a pair of crutches to move around.
However, her son did not know how to hold the crutches, and continued to walk on his injured leg while carrying the mobility aid.
While Kiran — who is a trainee at the Movement for the Intellectually Disabled of Singapore (Minds) Employment Development Centre — is able to tell his parents he is in pain, Mdm Jothi added that he will not be able to point out exactly where he is hurting.
Speaking to TODAY, Minds deputy chief executive officer Jeffrey Chan said that some persons with special needs have communication difficulties, especially if they are unable to verbally express their health
Others take on more personal health risks when they are unable to care for themselves properly, including in areas such as weight management and dental care.
Apart from these problems, persons with special needs also face “health inequalities”. Citing international findings, Dr Chan noted that certain medical conditions are more commonly found in persons with special needs due to genetics, for instance. They include certain types of cancer, such as stomach cancer, respiratory diseases, diabetes and osteoporosis among persons with intellectual disabilities.
They are also more likely to have mental health conditions. A higher prevalence of dementia has been found among the intellectually disabled elderly.
Other preventable medical conditions, such as constipation and unhealthy gums and teeth, are also more commonly found in persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
For full article, please visit: http://www.todayonline.com/singapore/special-needs-persons-face-health-inequalities