Knowledge, Opinions and Experiences Related to Children with Developmental Disabilities
The findings of this research lead to the conclusion that BiH citizens are generally aware of the neglect, marginalization and lack of respect for the fundamental rights of children with developmental disabilities and the lack of social help and support for this group.
Nevertheless, many BiH citizens have demonstrated certain stereotypical preconceptions and prejudice towards developmentally disabled children, which highlights the need for activities to raise public awareness of the issue.
The main problem when interpreting the findings of this research is the nature of the topic tackled. Traditionally, institutionalization of an infirm or ill person for other people to take care of them is generally deemed unacceptable and disgraceful in BiH. This attitude is rooted in the dominating concept of family, where parents are obliged to take care of their children who will then take care of their parents in future. Suggesting institutionalization of special needs children would therefore be considered a socially unacceptable answer. Accordingly, answers to questions about this topic may not accurately reflect the actual situation in BiH society.
The findings of this research indicate the need for additional efforts to inform BiH citizens about children with developmental disabilities – who they are, their characteristics and abilities, emphasizing their similarities to other children. Social distance from these children should be reduced, their inclusion increased both in education and society in general. BiH society should do more to provide equal opportunities and rights to these children, no different than those of others, including the right to a dignified life and the right to appropriate education allowing them to develop their abilities to the maximum. In addition to raising awareness about such children, the problems that their families face should be clearly identified and families should receive appropriate support. Citizens should be encouraged to become involved in advocating for the rights of these children. Finally, when planning an awareness raising campaign, local TV stations should be considered the best communication channel.