Services are available for people with developmental disabilities through DDD support coordination agencies and other organizations. To know whether a loved one qualifies for such services, you must first understand what a developmental disability is.
Examples of Developmental Disabilities
A developmental disability is one that is chronic, meaning that it extends over a long period of time (often a person's entire life), and severe, which means that it can have significantly adverse effects on an individual. They cause impairment in areas of behavior, language, and learning, as well as physical impairment. They get their name from the fact that they begin during the developmental period, which extends prenatally into early childhood.
Examples of developmental disabilities include the following:
- Fetal alcohol syndrome
- Spina bifida
- Down syndrome
- Cerebral palsy
Causes of Developmental Disabilities
Approximately 17% of children ages three through 17 in the United States has at least one developmental disability. The conditions do not discriminate on the basis of socioeconomic status, race, or ethnicity.
Some developmental disabilities occur during infancy or early childhood. Most, however, are congenital, meaning that they are present at birth. Infection, injury, or exposure to a toxic substance can all result in developmental disabilities. Sometimes if the mother has an illness while pregnant, the baby may also become infected, which can result in disability. If the mother drinks alcohol while pregnant, or if the mother or someone around her smokes, that can also compromise the baby's health and result in disability. Children can also sometimes acquire a developmental disability due to complications at birth.
Signs of Developmental Disabilities
The functions that children learn as they grow are called developmental milestones. These include skills such as speech and ambulation. When children do not reach these milestones as expected, it may be a sign of a developmental disability. You can find out information from your doctor about developmental milestones and whether your child is meeting them on time. If you ever have any concerns about your child's development, you should discuss them with a physician right away.