Living With Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities

In a world that has been consistently and admirably trying to better itself for people with disabilities, the knowledge among the general population about intellectual and developmental disabilities is still remarkably limited. For those who are relatively new to these terms, here is a quick overview. “Developmental disabilities” is a term that collectively encompasses all … Continue reading “Living With Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities”

In a world that has been consistently and admirably trying to better itself for people with disabilities, the knowledge among the general population about intellectual and developmental disabilities is still remarkably limited. For those who are relatively new to these terms, here is a quick overview. “Developmental disabilities” is a term that collectively encompasses all kinds of physical and mental disabilities, including Downs Syndrome, epilepsy, cerebral palsy, autism and all kinds of degenerative neurological diseases. “Intellectual Disabilities,” also often referred by an older and now unofficial term, “Mental Retardation” is simply a branch of developmental disabilities and is scientifically defined as having an IQ score lower than 70. It can range from a mild learning or speech disorder to a more severe diagnosis such as Autism, Williams syndrome or Fragile X syndrome.

History has been particularly unkind towards disabled people and stories of their harsh and often tortuous treatment will shock even the toughest of readers. For centuries, developmental disabilities were looked down upon as a social stigma, or worse, an unacceptable and repulsive disease. While the world today is far more understanding of disabled people, such people still find themselves having to face several barriers and obstructions on the path to freedom and respect. In spite of several difficulties, our generation has been witness to some great personalities who have, with their strength and determination, overcome their developmental disability and created extraordinary lives for themselves. Perhaps the greatest scientist of all time, Stephen Hawking, was diagnosed with a degenerative neurological disease called ALS at a very young age. Actors Charles Burke, Warwick Davis and Tom Cruise have had to overcome their developmental disabilities on their path to success and so did some celebrated artists such as Walt Disney and Frida Kahlo.

Transcendent singer Susan Boyle suffers from Asperger’s Syndrome and she had once said about her struggles, “I want to turn my disability into an ability.”

As we have learnt from these iron-willed personalities, nothing is impossible, and there is no reason for a developmental disability to hold anyone back. It may make life seem unfairly difficult, but several organizations exist today that try to provide the support and encouragement such people require turning their disabilities into abilities. Every person should be able to live life fully, if not extraordinarily, and we all deserve to live with a certain degree of freedom and respect. Dignity is is not impossible, even for the developmentally disabled, and the world today is striving hard to raise the standards of living for such people. Organizations for the betterment of the developmentally disabled include experts or simply ordinary people who wish to make a difference in the world. Organizations and individual employees are dedicated to creating a better world for the people of different abilities. People equipped with the necessary knowledge, awareness and training, work towards creating an environment that help empower others.

How to Deal With Developmental Disabilities

Parents who have children with disabilities should know how this condition progresses with age. This will allow them to prepare and take care of their children better. Family members and therapists can nurture children with developmental disabilities.

What are developmental disabilities?

Developmental disability is a lifelong condition described by having mental and physical impairments. People with developmental disabilities usually manifest symptoms before they are 18 years old.

This condition affects how they function every day. Parents who have children with disabilities often worry about their children’s future, particularly their capacity to be independent, self-sufficient, mobile, and expressive.

Some developmental disabilities include mental retardation, autism spectrum disorders, genetic chromosomal disorders, Down syndrome, Fragile X syndrome and Fetal Alcohol Spectrum.

Developmental disabilities can be classified into three categories: mild, moderate, and profound and severe. People that fall within the mild category can still lead a normal life. They can live independently and may even gain lifelong employment. They take workshops and community socialization training in order to function well in society.

People who belong to the moderate category usually need a strong support system from their families and community agencies.

Those who fall within the severe category have high levels of dependence and may need life-long support. They need intensive support as their mastery of daily living or ADLS is limited, or in some cases, non-existent. Those who fall in this category suffer from medical complications such as seizures, difficulty in swallowing, and speech impairments.

Here are some factors that can cause developmental disabilities:

– Severe physical abuse that may have caused a brain injury and affected a child’s learning abilities

– Infection during and after birth

– Nutrition problems during pregnancy

– Chromosome and genes abnormality

– Substance abuse during pregnancy. Drugs, alcohol and smoking can lead to developmental disability.

– Extreme prematurity or birth long before the expected date

How do you care for children with disabilities?

You should not de disheartened if you have a child who has disabilities. Remember that even if you will face many difficulties, you are not alone. You will always have a strong support group in your friends and family.There are institutions that can help you with the problem you are facing.

Here are some tips to help you take care of your special child:

– Remember that they are still children

Children with disabilities need love, acceptance, opportunities and chances to excel like other children. Focus on your child’s individual strengths rather than their problems.

– Ask questions to the right people

You should ask therapists and other medical professionals if you are unsure of how to provide proper care for your child. You should ask them as many questions as you need.

You should also keep communication lines open in case you might want to contact them for additional guidance.

– Look for a suitable physical therapist

Each child is unique. Let your child meet a physical therapist that has enough experience in taking care of children with special needs. Meet up with them and do a thorough investigation. Ask about their background, qualifications, and ethics. This will help you decide if this therapist can work for you.

– Develop a good plan

Go over your daily activities with your chosen therapist and develop a plan to address your child’s needs.

– Relax and be comfortable

Learn to introduce your children to other people well. Remember that other people look at you for cues on how they should act. You should be positive and comfortable so that they will be too.