Disability, and specifically childhood disability, is an issue that is evolving and which recently met worldwide interest in both developed and developing countries. After the enactment of the Convention on Rights for Persons with Disability (CRPD) in 2006, many moves have been made toward the establishment of disabled children’s rights, both on international and national panoramas, but there is still a long way to go, primarily for complete and effective inclusion in their local community.
Working with children with special needs means working with disability; working with disability means firstly knowing that it is a multi-factor and multi-faceted experience that every person could potentially experience during his life. Because of the complexity and the plurality of the topic, we are going to focus on two specific aspects of disability. Firstly, the side related to culture, which means the different perspectives, meanings and connotations that the concept of disability has in different cultural, social and economic conditions, starting from the definition of disability itself. Secondly, we are going to focus on the rehabilitation process, not limiting this to technical considerations (such as physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy and so on) but investigating the essential role that the disabled child’s family plays in the process of rehabilitation and the consequent need to build successful cooperation with them. What link is there between disability and rehabilitation? The goal of rehabilitation is to restore an individual’s ability to his/her normal or near-normal functional capabilities after the occurrence of a disabling event. So rehabilitation is a tool through which it is possible to reduce the impact of disability in a person’s life. But very often some disability is going to remain, and this is truer in childhood rehabilitation, since disabling diseases that affect children are very complex and involve many different body functions. In this situation, the compliance and the understanding of the family is crucial to obtain maximum results from rehabilitation. A realistic but non-cruel picture of the situation, shared goals, good levels of communication and feedback are essentials components for good results. The aim of this handbook is to provide basic but indispensable tools for reaching them.