Did you know that March is Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month? Each year we take the month of March to raise awareness for our friends and families with developmental disabilities. We also use this month to educate the community on developmental disabilities. Chances are you probably work with someone who has a developmental disability, or your child goes to school with someone who does. It’s important to educate your child so that they understand that this doesn’t make them any different from one another. Educating them early might even encourage them to reach out to their new friend and make them feel welcome in school!
What is a Developmental Disability?
Great question! A developmental disability is considered a severe and long-term disability; it can be physical and/or mental. Some examples include:
- cerebral palsy
- Down syndrome
- fetal alcohol syndrome
- hearing loss
Typically these disabilities are presented around birth and can negatively affect the individual for life. According to the Institute on Community Integration (ICI), as of 2016, 7.37 million people in the United States have an intellectual or developmental disability. This can include severe or non-severe disabilities as well as individuals who have one or more developmental disabilities.
You’ve probably heard the term ‘developmental delay’ as well and are now wondering what the differences might be. A developmental delay is going to be when your child does not meet their developmental milestones at the expected time. This can include (but not limited to) crawling, rolling over, or even walking much later than what is developmentally appropriate. Always keep an eye on how your child is developing and let your pediatrician know if you’ve having any concerns!
What Can You Do?
So now that you have overall the facts- you probably want to know how you can help raise awareness. Here are a few ideas!
-Participate in a Walk: There are so many different annual walks for different disabilities. Autism awareness month is in April and all over the country you can find walks put on by Autism Speaks. Do some research and find out what is available by you.
-Share the Information: Share this information or the photo on the right via social media! Use the hashtag #DDAwareness2020.
-Share Your Story: If you or your child has a developmental disability, you can share your story as well! It’s so encouraging for people to hear about this from someone who has experienced some of these challenges.
-Words of Kindness: Do you work with someone who has a disability? Show them how much they mean to you! Maybe give them a note with words of encouragement, or simply take time out of your day to chat with them and see if they need anything.
This March, we encourage you to participate in spreading awareness for developmental disabilities! If you or someone you know is affected by a developmental disability, make a point to talk to someone in the community about it! You are loved and sharing your story might be exactly what someone else needs!
-The PediaPlex Family