A new report says families with disabled children feel alienated in their communities and suffer due to a lack of key services.A survey of 615 families found 67% believe understanding and acceptance of disability in their community - and in society at large - is poor.
They described how they felt stigmatised and shut out due to a lack of understanding about their children's disabilities.
The new research forms the basis of a new report - What makes My Family Stronger - from the charity Contact a Family.
Other key findings were that 62% of families do not feel professionals listen to them.
More than 40% of families said they lacked vital support services such as the ability to take short breaks, and access to a key worker or childcare.
A total of 64% said they did not feel valued in their role as carers by society, while half of families said the opportunity to enjoy leisure activities together was poor or unsatisfactory.
Srabani Sen, chief executive of Contact a Family, said: "It is shocking that in the UK today, attitudes towards disabled children from professionals and members of the public are among the barriers preventing families from leading ordinary lives.
"Families with disabled children have enough challenges to overcome to secure the support they need without also having to cope with prejudice and ignorance.
"Families with disabled children want the same things as other families. They want to see their children reach their full potential, they want to be included and accepted by their community.
"For this to happen, professionals need to recognise each child's capabilities rather than seeing only disability.
"They must also recognise the value and expertise of parent carers. And every one of us needs to be more understanding and accepting of disability."
The charity is calling for everyone working in a public-facing role in the UK to be given disability equality training.
It also wants a review of carers' benefits to be carried out urgently and for more awareness campaigns in schools.
Sky News, 19th May 2009