Developmental disabilities are defined as a variety of conditions that impair physical, learning, language, or behavioral areas. These conditions appear during the developmental period of a child’s early life and tend to impact a person’s day to day functions throughout their lifetime. For this very reason, developmental disabilities are found only in children, and not adults. Screening for these disabilities start as early as 9 months and typically end at 24 months. Some examples of developmental disabilities include: autism, behavioral disorders, cerebral palsy, down syndrome, and fetal alcohol syndrome. About 1 in 6 children have a developmental disability of some kind.
In honor of National Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month in March, this month’s newsletter will be taking a look at what can and has been done for the accessibility and rights of people with developmental disabilities.
Developmental Disabilities Act:
The Developmental Disabilities Assistance and Bill of Rights Act first became law in 1963 and was revised in 2000. The DD Act was put in place to grant the rights of people with disabilities. Some of the rights are common things that people should not have to fight for like being an active part of their community and being able to work. Before this act was passed, people with DD faced barriers to go to school, applying for jobs, or even faced restrictions in places that they wanted to go. The DD Act ensures that people with DD are entitled to the same rights as everyone else.
The DD Act has three significant programs that are accessible in every state for people with DD. The Developmental Disability Council is in charge of representing people with DD for any changes they need by setting up a plan every five years within the state. The Protection and Advocacy organization helps speak up for people with DD when their rights are not being provided. The University Center leads the research and training needed to keep people updated on the different ways to help people with DD have good lives.
The Texas Council for Developmental Disabilities aims to help people with developmental disabilities achieve their independence, productivity, and integration into their own communities through a series of services and programs. Their council creates an effort to ensure that people from diverse cultures and backgrounds are represented in all situations. The Texas Legislature, states that people with developmental disabilities have the right to appropriate service, treatment, and habilitation due to their disability. The State of Texas Human Resources Code states that these three rights must be provided in the way that is the least restrictive to their own personal liberty.
Resources for Support:
As a result of the Developmental Disabilities Act, numerous governmental resources and organizations have formed to further assist and foster people with developmental disabilities. For our community to better understand and help others, we must be able to be open to learning and be patient. Written by Integrity Inc., a community organization providing care and alternative services, towards adults with developmental disabilities, they outline skill sets one should establish if they are caring or supporting for them:
1. Being educated
2. Enhancing communication and patience
3. Understand; do not assume.
4. Being direct
5. Being inclusive
6. Allowing independence
Additionally, here are some listed governmental resources that generally covers supporting persons with developmental disabilities:
For a government website of resources of programs that will provide the needs and wants reflected in all; ranging from jobs, healthcare, and housing.
For more insight and history behind how programs were implemented, and how it affects people with a developmental disability, the CDC has outlined strategies. Additionally, it provides ideas on how people can design everyday objects with easy accessibility, and available charts and other websites that can further improve the quality-of-life for the community.
For people with disabilities that are independent and caring for their own, DIAL is an access line provided by the Administration for Community Living to provide assistance regarding programs that further help with independent living, and offers further care regarding essential services.
Developmental disabilities are something that people struggle with so often in life. You can't always see them, but they are very prominent in some people's lives. Learning about these disabilities is the first step in helping support people with these disabilities. Using the resources and tips talked about in this article will be beneficial in making the world more inclusive. There have been too many instances where people with developmental disabilities have been overlooked or treated poorly so it is so important to learn and understand what we as a society can do better to improve that.