1 Department of Psychology, Faculty of Social Sciences, Københavns Universitet2 Aarhus University3 Institut for Psykologi, Department of Psychology, Faculty of Social Sciences, Københavns Universitet4 Institut for Psykologi, Department of Psychology, Faculty of Social Sciences, Københavns Universitet
Empirical research has established that children with disabilities are more likely to develop psychopathology than children without disabilities. But too little is known about the association between disability and psychopathology. The aim of this article is to discuss developmental psychopathological models that conceptualise the connection between childhood disability and psychopathology. Empirical studies of psychopathology among children with a congenital hearing impairment and children with cerebral palsy will be reviewed, representing in-depth examples of association between disability and psychopathology. Both a congenital hearing impairment and cerebral palsy were found to be dominating risk factors for all types of psychopathology, but no relationship was identified between degree of disability and risk of psychopathology. The higher risk cannot be explained by biological impairments alone. To explain the contradictory findings, developmental models of disability and psychopathology are applied. Within a multi-factorial developmental psychopathological perspective and a dialectical model of disability (Vygotsky, 1993), it is suggested that disability can be understood as an incongruence between the individual development of the child and demands and expectations in the specific relations and institutions in which the child participates. This incongruence creates and strengthens negative factors for the child with disability and results in a higher risk of psychopathology.
Research in Developmental Disabilities, 2013, Vol 34, p. 3607-3617