The nature and prevalence of additional challenges faced by the children and youth on the National Deaf-Blind Child Count have remained relatively stable during the past 5 years. Approximately 87% have been identified as having one or more additional disabilities. Most common are cognitive impairments, orthopedic impairments, and complex health care needs.
The percentage of children and youth experiencing orthopedic or physical challenges has fluctuated between 59% and 61% during this time frame. Similarly, the percentage of children and youth experiencing intellectual/cognitive challenges has fluctuated between 65% and 68%. Slightly fewer children and youth have experienced complex health care needs, fluctuating between 51% and 53%.
The number of additional disabilities experienced by children and youth has increased over time. In 2005, just 13.1% of the children and youth on the count had four or more additional disabilities. In 2017, nearly 43% were reported as having four or more additional disabilities.
The population continues to be diverse in terms of experiencing additional disabilities. Almost 90% have one or more additional disabilities and over 40% have four or more. The increasing level of complexity in the needs and challenges faced by this population requires continued evolution and adaptation in national, state, and local systems to provide needed services effectively. Conversely, more children and youth are also being identified with no additional disabilities. This group of children and youth has increased from 10.4% to 13.4% of the overall population over the past five years, requiring additional focus at state and national levels.