The health of children attending special schools in the Gold Coast district, as perceived by their parents and teachers

Hogan, Margaret M. (2000). The health of children attending special schools in the Gold Coast district, as perceived by their parents and teachers Master's Thesis, School of Medicine, The University of Queensland.

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Author Hogan, Margaret M.
Thesis Title The health of children attending special schools in the Gold Coast district, as perceived by their parents and teachers
School, Centre or Institute School of Medicine
Institution The University of Queensland
Publication date 2000
Thesis type Master's Thesis
Total pages 101
Language eng
Subjects 130312 Special Education and Disability
1117 Public Health and Health Services
Formatted abstract Children attending special schools have been identified as having unrecognised health problems and unmet health needs. In the Gold Coast North and South Education Districts in South East Queensland in 1998, 2.5% of students were identified as having high educational support needs arising from autistic spectrum disorder, hearing impairment, intellectual impairment, physical impairment, speech, language impairment, vision impairment or a combination of these. An array of services within and across the districts' primary, secondary and three special schools exists to address the specific educational needs of these students. In 1998, 31.7% of children identified with these high support needs attended the three Gold Coast special schools.

This study was undertaken in 1999 to identify the health needs of the 262 children attending these three schools. Information on the functional health status and well being of the students was collected via a questionnaire posted to all parents/carers. The instrument used was the Child Health Questionnaire, PF50, a parent/proxy report that was developed in the United States and recently adapted for Australian use. A questionnaire was developed and distributed to the teaching staff at the three schools to determine their concerns about the health of the children in their care. The Education Queensland and Community Child Health staff providing services to the schools were interviewed to gain an understanding of the services they provided.

In all but one of the CHQ PF50 scales, parents/carers perceived their children's health status to be lower than that of the Australian normative data. These differences were evident for male and female students, however, male students scored significantly lower on the scales relating to behaviour and mental health. Parents also identified that the child's health had a significant impact on their time and on aspects of family life.

Teaching staff expressed confidence in dealing with students with a wide range of conditions but expressed concern about basic health issues such as hygiene and nutrition. They also identified access to a nurse and written material as the resources that would assist in the management of children in their care. The immediate health needs of children attending the Southport special school are the focus of the Education Queensland nurse and consultative services only are provided to the other two special schools by the Community Child Health staff A lack of time and resources were among the reasons cited for the limited service provided.

This study has provided an understanding of the health concerns of parents and teachers about the children attending the three Gold Coast special schools. This data can be used as a basis for planning more appropriate preventive and support programmes for the students, teachers and parents/carers.
Keyword Children -- Health and hygiene -- Queensland -- Gold Coast.
Special education -- Queensland -- Gold Coast.
Special schools
Health status
Child health questionnaire
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