The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities defines a young person as having a disability if they have a physical, psychological, intellectual or sensory impairment that, in interaction with attitudinal and environmental barriers, is highly likely to impair their equal participation in society for longer than six months.
Under Article 2 (1) of Book 9 of the Social Code (SGB IX), a person has a disability if they have a physical, psychological, intellectual or sensory impairment that, in interaction with attitudinal and environmental barriers, is highly likely to impair their equal participation in society for longer than six months. A person has an impairment if their physical and health condition falls short of that typical for their age. A person is at risk of disability if such an impairment is to be expected.
Given the lack of comprehensive data and statistics on young people with disabilities living in Germany, it impossible to curate an authoritative overview.
According to the statistics on persons with a registered disability, in 2021 around 200,000 children and adolescents under the age of 18 were registered as having a disability with a severity of at least 50% on a scale of 20–100%. However, these figures do not account for the fact that not all families apply for or receive disability status.
The 2017 German Microcensus found that roughly 3.6% of under-25s living at home have a disability, or around 720,000 of the approx. 20 million under-25s living in Germany.
Added to this are young people with disabilities living in residential care. Since responsibilities are currently split between child and youth services (for young people with/at risk of psychological disability) and integration support pursuant to SGB IX (for young people with/at risk of physical and intellectual disability), two different sets of statistics are relevant with respect to residential care. Child and youth services (Article 35a Book 8 of the Social Code [SGB VIII]) recorded around 142,885 cases of young people under the age of 27 with/at risk of psychological disability in 2021, and integration support pursuant to SGB IX recorded 103,537 cases of young people under the age of 18 with/at risk of physical and/or intellectual disability. Both figures refer to both residential and non-residential services.
School is a particularly important area of life for all children and adolescents, with and without a disability. Separate statistics are kept on the number of children recognised by the education system as having special educational needs. In 2022 around 590,300 pupils were recognised as having special educational needs, of which some 332,000 were taught in schools for children with learning disabilities, i.e., not in mainstream schools together with children and adolescents without disabilities (KMK, 2022).
In 2020, approx. 1.3 million minors in Germany were living in a household together with at least one parent with a disability or chronic disease.