Developmental Disabilities

Some facts and figures regarding developmental disabilities.

According to the Administration on Developmental Disabilities (ADD), nearly four million Americans have some form of developmental disability. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) notes that developmental disabilities occur in children under 18 years of age, and include cognitive, physical, psychological, speech, and sensory impairments.

The primary developmental disabilities recognized by the CDC include attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, autism, cerebral palsy, hearing impairment, mental retardation, vision impairment, and other disabilities occurring in early children. Generally, the cause of developmental disabilities is not known, although there may be some factors increasing the chances of a developmental disability.

As noted by the ADD, developmental disabilities are generally chronic and result in limitations in three or more of the following areas:

  • Capacity for independent living
  • Economic self-sufficiency
  • Learning
  • Mobility
  • Receptive and expressive language
  • Self-care
  • Self-direction

Another indicator is a continuous need for individually planned and coordinated services.

Caregivers may experience a wide variety of emotions ranging from anger to grief at having a child with a developmental disability. Keep in mind that you are not alone. The number of support groups for caregivers of individuals with a disability is large and growing, and chances are there’s a group in your area. The easiest way to get information about or to find others in similar caregiving situations is by contacting the Administration on Developmental Disabilities (www.acf.hhs.gov) or the Center for Disease Control (www.cdc.gov).

In addition to learning more about the developmental disorder and obtaining support from other caregivers, it’s important that you take care of yourself. Structure your schedule to include daily activities you enjoy, and rely on the support of friends and family.

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