March is Developmental Disability Awareness Month, and we want to help bring awareness to something that impacts 17% of all children in the United States. This post aims to answer the question, “what are developmental disabilities?”, and give some quick facts about how they impact individuals.
Developmental Disabilities Definition:
Developmental Disabilities is a big umbrella term that basically encompasses a lot of developmental conditions and diagnoses that may have an onset of symptoms from birth through adolescence. These disabilities can be things that effect your vision or hearing, or they can be more physical or intellectual. Some individuals may have a combination of multiple disabilities that impacts different parts of their bodies in different ways. These disabilities will typically have an early onset and impact a person throughout their entire life.
Types of Developmental Disabilities:
There are many different types of developmental disabilities, although they typically fall into one of these main categories:
- Hearing Loss
- Vision Loss
- Movement Disorders
- Cerebral Palsy
- Spina Bifida
- Muscular Dystrophy
- Limb Differences
- Learning Disabilities/Intellectual Disabilities
- Fragile X Syndrome
- Other Diagnoses that may fit multiple categories
- Speech Disorders
- Down Syndrome
- Williams Syndrome
- Prader-Willi Syndrome
While these are just some of the many developmental disabilities that exist, it is in no way an exclusive list and there are so many other diagnoses and conditions that could result in a Developmental Disability in a child.
Who Can Be Impacted?
Developmental Disabilities can impact all racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic groups. Recent studies suggest that 1 in 6 children in the United States are impacted by Developmental Disabilities. While some disabilities such as Down Syndrome have risk factors such as maternal age, because the scope of Developmental Disabilities is so vast, and can be caused by unpredictable events such as birth trauma, there really is no way to prevent a majority of them.
How to Advocate?
The reality is that if there is not someone with a developmental disability in your household, then there is a high chance you know someone who has one, or someone who cares for an individual with a disability. Take the time to learn more about their particular diagnosis. Offer to spend time with that person as a caretaker. Contribute to causes that directly benefit that person and their particular diagnosis. There are many ways to be an ally and help, you just have to take the time to learn what type of help is most beneficial to the family and the individual.