Developmental disabilities are more common than you may think. It is estimated that one in every ten families are affected by a child with an intellectual or developmental disability. In recent years, a lot more information has come to light about how best to help individuals and their families who have a diagnosed disability.

What are Developmental and Intellectual Disabilities?

 Developmental and Intellectual Disabilities are terms used when an individual displays certain limitations in mental or physical functioning such as:

Inability to properly communicate needs, wants, and feelings.
Trouble with socializing with their peers in an appropriate way.
Trouble caring for themselves physically, such as in eating, using the restroom, personal hygiene or dressing themselves.
Physical deformities that may make it challenging for the individual to function or develop as they normally would if the disability was not present.
Taking longer to learn developmental skills such as walking, talking, taking care of their personal needs, or trouble processing or learning new information in school.

It is important to be understanding in the fact that many people who have ID/DD will learn to do things, but it will likely take them longer, and there still may be things they are unable to do or learn.

There are many types of developmental and intellectual disabilities, some which are more known than others. Down’s Syndrome and Autism are two of the most well-known intellectual disabilities, but Cerebral Palsy, Fragile X Syndrome and others are also intellectual or physical disabilities.

There are several causes of developmental disabilities, but many of them are often out of the parent’s control. Genetic conditions, issues during pregnancy, issues with birth and other health problems can all contribute to the development of intellectual or physical disabilities.

There is no cure for developmental and intellectual disabilities, but by helping your child adapt to their environment and teaching them skills they will need to live happy, productive lives are essential to helping those affected by ID/DD.

Being patient, understanding and compassionate are the best ways handle these disabilities. Understanding that you need to care for yourself as well is crucial to your ability to be the best caregiver and parent you are able to be.

Recognizing Signs of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities:

There are many ways to tell if your child may have an intellectual or developmental disability.

Bear in mind that just because your child may experience any of the following signs, it does not automatically mean that there is an ID/DD present. Be mindful when reading through the signs, and don’t panic right away if your child presents with any of the following.

It is always best to consult with your pediatrician if you suspect your child may have an intellectual, physical, or developmental disability, as they are the best source of information and can guide you where you need to go to help your child and can point you to helpful resources.

• Sit up, crawl or walk later than other children their age
• Learn to talk later or have trouble speaking
• Have trouble understanding social rules or norms
• Have trouble seeing the consequences of their actions
• Have trouble solving problems and/or thinking logically about common, everyday issues

Get support:

It is important to know you are not alone. Many families have children that have or may have intellectual and developmental disabilities. Talking with your child’s pediatrician should be the first step in getting support and resources to help you and your child. To learn what other resources are available to you, click here or here for further information.