Developmental disability in children means they are unable to reach age appropriate developmental benchmarks in communication, mobility and overall self-sufficiency.
The term became popular in the U.S. in the 1970s after the government passed the Developmental Disability Services and Facilities Construction Act. The act was designed to ensure people diagnosed with developmental challenges are given the support they need and not shunted into uncaring institutions, isolated and ignored. The act and the public's reaction to it has given rise to a number of effective programs and institutions where the developmentally challenged can find support.
Developmental disability takes many forms. It includes individuals who struggle with independent living, intellectual development, self-care, language skills, mobility, economic self-sufficiency and many other challenges. Many excellent tests have been devised to identify children with disabilities and channel them into programs which can help improve their ability to have a positive and meaningful life. The act and the public's response to it has led to a dramatically improved quality of life for children and adults who struggle to make their way in life regardless of their mental, emotional or physical challenges. The new prospective on developmental disabilities has earned sufferers respect and garnered them wide support.
The public perception of people with developmental disabilities has also gone through a radical change. Long gone is the attitude that the learning challenged should be hidden away and forgotten. Today people who have relatives, friends or acquaintances diagnosed as having developmental disabilities try to help them do as much for themselves as they can while leading them to resources which can help to address their deficits. This new perspective on people with developmental challenges has allowed millions of people who would otherwise be marginalized to find support and opportunities for normal growth and meaningful self expression.
There are numerous causes of developmental disability. Medical professionals and researchers point to environmental, social, genetic and other reasons why some children are born with developmental deficits. It has made parents more aware of the potential dangers and led to the creation of a battery of tests designed to identify those at risk. Parents are made aware of the dangers and are guided towards things they can do to lower the risk of having a child with developmental issues. Many treatments have been created to arrest the developmental issues in their early stages and give the children a better chance to live a normal life.
A few decades ago being diagnosed as having a developmental disability was a cause for shame. Today people take a proactive approach. They try to eliminate the factors that can lead to developmental challenges and give those born with those challenges all the love and support they can.