The social model of disability has paid little attention to disabled children, with few attempts to explore how far it provides an adequate explanatory framework for their experiences. This paper reports findings from a two‐year study exploring the lived experiences of 26 disabled children aged 7–15. They experienced disability in four ways—in terms of impairment, difference, other people’s behaviour towards them, and material barriers. Most young people presented themselves as similar to non‐disabled children: it is suggested they may have lacked a positive language with which to discuss difference. It is further argued that Thomas’s (1999) social relational model of disability can help inform understandings of children’s experiences, with ‘barriers to being’ having particular significance.