March is National Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month. To help celebrate and raise awareness, NARIC staff will be sharing posts throughout the month on different topics, including posts on different types of developmental disabilities and the research on developmental disabilities funded by NIDILRR.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), developmental disabilities are a “group of conditions due to an impairment in physical, learning, language, or behavior areas. These conditions begin during the developmental period, may impact day-to-day functioning, and usually last throughout a person’s lifetime.” Developmental disabilities occur among all groups, including racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic groups. Recent estimates show that 15% or one in six children between the ages of 3 and 17 have at least one developmental disability. Developmental disabilities include attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder, autism spectrum disorder, cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, intellectual disabilities, learning disabilities, Trisomy 18, and other developmental delays.
Developmental disabilities may begin at any time during the developmental period – the majority occur before the baby is born; however, many occur after birth because of an injury, infection, or other factors. Most occur due to a complex mixture of factors that include genetics, complications during birth, infections that the mother may have during pregnancy, infections that the child may have early in life, or high exposure to toxins such as lead.
As each child grows, they reach developmental milestones. It is important to remember that each child reaches these milestones at their own pace. However, if you are concerned that your child is not reaching the milestones for their age group or are concerned about their overall development, contact your child’s medical professional right away to discuss your concerns. The CDC have an informative page on what to do if you are concerned about your child’s development and includes factsheets in English and Spanish on how to help your child and how to speak with their doctor, information on asking for developmental screening, and other tips and tools.
There are many great resources available for people with developmental disabilities and their families. Here are just a few of them:
- The Administration on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities from the Administration for Community Living has great information on the State Councils on Developmental Disabilities. The information includes a list of each state’s council(s) contact information, info sheets, and program details.
- The Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr. Foundation provides a comprehensive list of resources specific to developmental disabilities.
- The National Association of State Directors of Developmental Disability Services provides a list of state agencies, publications, and a resource library for people with developmental disabilities.
- As the largest national community-based organization that advocates for and serves people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, The Arc helps ensure that people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families have the services and support they need to be engaged in their communities. Each state has their own chapter.
- You can call your local 2-1-1 to find resources specific to your area.
Do not forget to check out NARIC’s resource page on intellectual and developmental disabilities and brochure on autism spectrum disorder! If you’d like to learn more about developmental disabilities or need to find resources, please contact NARIC’s information specialists by calling 800/346-2742 or email us at NARICInfo@heitechservices.com.