A Guide to Developmental Disabilities Resources

Developmental disabilities can make daily tasks very challenging. Some of these issues include speech impediments, social awkwardness, and cognitive disabilities. Those without proper developmental disabilities resources may not know how to navigate life with a disabled individual.

Do you want to learn more about developmental disabilities and how to care for those with developmental disabilities?

If you know someone who has a developmental disability, you should educate yourself to understand them better. Here is your guide to developmental disabilities and how they affect people.

What Are Developmental Disabilities?

Developmental disabilities are defined as a collection of conditions that cause impairment in learning, physical, social, behavior, or language areas. These conditions often arise during early development. However, they can occur later in life.

Many developmental disabilities affect day-to-day life for people. Fortunately, there are treatment options available for those with developmental disabilities.

Types of Developmental Disabilities

There are many different types of developmental disabilities. While there are many more than what is listed here, these are among the most common examples. Here are some of the developmental disabilities that you may run into.


ADHD is a common developmental disability in both youth and adults. There are many ways that ADHD may present itself, including, but not limited to:

  • Difficulty starting or finishing tasks
  • Difficulty organizing
  • Difficulty listening or paying attention
  • Moments of hyperactivity
  • Moments of anxiety or depression
  • Hyperfixation on certain subjects
  • Consistent fidgeting
  • Impatience
  • Difficulty controlling strong emotions
  • Excessive daydreaming
  • Poor memory

It should be noted that males and females often display different symptoms. Should a child or adult display multiple symptoms over an extended period of time, they may have ADHD.

Autism Spectrum Disorder

ASD, or autism spectrum disorder, shares many similarities with ADHD. It is a combination of various disorders that cause difficulties in social situations. ASD sets in early in a child's life and stays throughout the individual's life.

Many symptoms of ASD align with ADHD symptoms. They include, but are not limited to:

  • Extreme hyperfixations
  • Preference for auditory or visual learning
  • Repetitive behaviors, such as tapping or knee bouncing
  • Difficulty processing or understanding emotions
  • Difficulty making eye contact
  • Difficulty communicating with others
  • A strong connection to routine
  • Difficulty with change
  • Extreme sensitivity to certain stimuli, such as bright lights or loud noises

ASD is a wide spectrum that includes many variations in symptoms and experiences. There is no known cause for ASD. However, professionals believe it may be a combination of genetics and environmental factors.

Cerebral Palsy

Cerebral palsy is a disability that affects a child's movements. It can either appear at birth or shortly after. There are three main types of cerebral palsy; spastic, athetoid, and ataxic.

Spastic CP causes stiff muscles and difficulty moving. Athetoid CP causes uncontrolled movements, often as random, jerking motions. Finally, ataxic CP causes problems with coordination and balance.

You may notice your baby not meeting certain developmental milestones. You may also notice difficulties while crawling or strangely stiff muscles when holding the baby. If your baby has trouble sitting up or rolling over, they may have CP.

Learning Disabilities

There are quite a few learning disabilities. This affects how a child learns and retains new information. It may affect reading, math, writing, language, and communication skills.

A few learning disabilities include, but are not limited to:

  • Dyslexia
  • Dysgraphia
  • Dyspraxia
  • Dyscalculia
  • Apraxia
  • Nonverbal learning disorders
  • Visual perceptual/visual motor deficit
  • Central auditory processing disorder
  • Aphasia/dysphasia

The exact cause of learning disabilities is still unknown.

Down Syndrome

Down syndrome is a developmental disability that affects one in 700 babies. It occurs when there is a partial or complete copy of chromosome 21.

This simple difference affects how children develop. It causes all of the common attributes of down syndrome, including, but not limited to:

  • Eyes that slant upward
  • Low muscle tone
  • The appearance of a flattened face
  • Broad, short hands
  • A single crease in the center of the hand
  • Unusually shaped or small ears
  • Small head and neck

Those with Down syndrome often experience language delays, starting to speak later on in their childhood. They also have mild to moderate cognitive impairment, affecting how they learn and process information.

Sensory Disabilities

Sensory disabilities are any disabilities that affect one or more of the five senses. Some examples include:

  • Hearing impairment
  • Partial or complete blindness
  • Speech impairment

These disabilities can affect how a child consumes information. For example, a child with a hearing impairment will likely struggle with language and speaking. Meanwhile, someone with a speech impairment may struggle in social settings and communication.

Sensory disabilities can affect learning just as much as mental or physical disabilities can. It's important to recognize and accommodate those who struggle with sensory input.

Educational Resources for Students with Developmental Disabilities

Fortunately, students with developmental disabilities have accommodations available to them. Laws have been put in place, such as the developmental disabilities assistance bill of rights, to protect and help those with developmental disabilities in school and in the workplace.

Depending on your child's disability, they may require different forms of accommodation. These types of educational resources may include:

  • Tutors specializing in teaching the developmentally disabled
  • Advocates for your student
  • Teachers who are trained to work with the developmentally disabled
  • Clear daily schedules to help form a routine
  • Clear instructions written or explained in a way your child can understand
  • Extra time for homework assignments, projects, and tests
  • Extra help in and out of the classroom
  • Additional visual supports or cues
  • Additional opportunities to practice new skills
  • Accessibility for those with physical developmental disabilities
  • Mobility devices
  • Regular breaks to avoid overstimulation
  • Additional support for transitional periods
  • The use of calming materials, such as fidget toys, playdoh, or other toys

The exact needs of your child will depend on their exact developmental disability and their symptoms. Talk to your child to see what tools they feel will help them at school! You can also speak with your child's pediatric practitioner for further medical advice.

Support Groups for Families With Developmental Disabilities

Caring for someone with a developmental disability can feel overwhelming and exhausting at times. However, you are not alone. If you need advice or want a community of fellow parents around you, then you should join a support group for families with developmental disabilities.

There are all sorts of support groups out there that are dedicated to aiding parents of developmentally disabled children. Whether you have immediate needs for help and advice or just want to be a part of a community, these support groups can help.

Emotional support groups are available for those struggling to cope with their child's diagnosis. The first few years following the initial diagnosis can be taxing. Fortunately, these groups allow you to discuss your feelings in a safe and friendly manner.

School-based groups are available for parents with developmentally disabled students. These groups strive to offer accommodations for students within the local district. You can sit down and talk with other parents about how the schools are accommodating your disabled children.

Regional groups provide resources to families within a certain regional area. They often run events to educate and assist families with developmental disabilities. They may also run smaller support groups around the region for parents.

Advocacy and public policy groups may not be support groups in the traditional sense, but they still provide amazing benefits for those in need! They help spread information about various developmental disabilities and ensure that people are educated and advocated for.

Of course, if you can't find an in-person group that fits your needs, you can always head to the Internet to find an online support group! No matter what specific issues your family is facing, there is an online group that can help you. Start your search and get the answers to your most pressing questions today!

Use These Developmental Disabilities Resources to Help Those Around You

As you can see, there are many developmental disabilities resources that are available for family members and friends of those with developmental disabilities. No matter what the disability is, you can rest assured knowing that you aren't alone. If you are ever unsure how to help someone with a developmental disability, reach out to a support group to find the answers you need.

Do you know someone who could benefit from group activities with other developmentally disabled individuals?

We're here for you. Contact us with any questions or concerns you may have about our programs for the intellectually and developmentally disabled and continue reading our blog for more information today!

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