<p>Christmas is an expensive time of year for families</p>

Christmas is an expensive time of year for families

Disabled children concerned over being able to afford Christmas presents, poll reveals

Sensory toys, which are invaluable to those with autism or learning disabilities, came out as one of the most expensive gifts

Richard Jenkins
Wednesday 01 December 2021 17:37
Comments

Nearly eight in 10 parents raising seriously ill and disabled children are worried they won’t be able to afford Christmas presents this year.

The festive period is such a magical time for children, but a poll has found families raising disabled children will struggle to make their Christmas wishes come true.

More than two thirds of the 978 families polled feel gifts for their disabled children are more expensive than things non-disabled children would like.

Sensory toys, which are invaluable to children who have autism or learning disabilities, emerged among the most expensive gifts that parents worry they won’t be able to afford, as well as bikes and outdoor play equipment which often have to be adapted to meet a particular child’s needs.

As a result, eight in 10 end up spending more money on their disabled children.

The research was commissioned by Family Fund, a national charity providing grants to support disabled children whose families are living on lower incomes.

Cheryl Ward, CEO of Family Fund, said: “This research shows many families won’t be able to afford the cost of Christmas this year.

“And many families raising disabled children will struggle to afford the sensory toys that their children need due to the extra costs of the ‘disability price tag.’

“Sensory toys, which have features like light and texture are stimulating and appealing for disabled children, but they’re significantly more expensive than other toys - costing many families over £250 per item.

“Given the fact it’s already around three times more expensive to raise a disabled child compared with other children, we’re concerned that families on low incomes whose children have complex needs, may miss out.”

The poll also found families are cutting down on other necessities so they can afford presents for their disabled children.

These include spending less on weekly groceries, cutting down on central heating and working longer hours.

As many as 92 per cent of those polled will also, along with other adults within their household, sacrifice their own gifts to help afford presents for their disabled children.

It also emerged that 83 per cent of parents find Christmas shopping for their disabled children stressful.

Having the money to cover the cost of specialist gifts is the thing families are most worried about having to afford this year – above the rise in utility bills and presents for other friends and family.

Nearly half will have to borrow an average of £390 to help them cover the additional costs that Christmas brings.

While one in 10 expect to borrow twice as much, an anticipated £800 more.

More than one third will use credit cards, with a fifth taking out personal loans and a quarter eating into an overdraft on their bank account.

The Marks are a family of five from Devon, who have three children with complex additional needs.

Archie, who is five and Chiara who is three, are both autistic and non-verbal.

Their younger brother Sebastian, aged 20 months, has developmental delays which also suggest autism, and is awaiting a medical diagnosis.

Mum Ms Marks said: “You want to be able to give your kids everything that they need and want, especially at Christmas, but it’s not always possible.

“They don’t really play with ‘normal’ toys at all, and the sensory ones are much more expensive.

“There have been times we’ve struggled to put food on the table, never mind afford luxuries like presents.

“It can be upsetting, stressful and lonely to face this – I’ve often been left in tears at Christmas.

“Family Fund gave us funding for sensory toys earlier this year, but children with additional needs often ‘use’ toys in a way that means they don’t last very long.

“Disability just creates so many extra costs – extra nappies, extra washing – two loads of clothing and bedsheets every day.

“Sadly, making Christmas special, with very little money to spend, can be difficult.”

SWNS

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in