Parenting Unusual - Facts About Developmental Disabilities

Facts About Developmental Disabilities

DD is a diverse group of chronic conditions which may affect a child’s mental and physical ability in certain areas of life. This means that the child develops mentally and physically at a below average rate and may have difficulties in adapting especially in learning, mobility, speech, independent living and significantly social, communication and behavioral challenges which typically manifest before the age of 18 years and may continue throughout the individual lifetime.

However, the child/individual can learn, with Early intervention, education and appropriate services, the child can lead an optimal and productive life.

Early intervention/treatment includes physical, speech, and occupational therapy, Special education, and psychological counseling. DD is traced to:

  • Intellectual Disability
  • Cerebral Palsy (CP)
  • Epilepsy
  • Autism (ASD)


Causes are varied and remained unknown in a large proportion of cases although genetics and environmental factors have been linked to be one of the causes but in most cases, there is no known cause.

It affects between 1& 2% of the population in the Western countries but world wide proportion of people living with DD is believed to be approximately 1.4%.
It is common in both male and female

Understanding Developmental Disability:

Intellectual Disability:
It is defined as an IQ below 70(average to high IQ in a typically developing child is 80 – 120) along with limitations and adaptive functioning before the age of 18 years. The child has trouble in learning and adaptive functioning (difficulty in adjusting with the environment or behavior expected of his/her age).


  • Learns more slowly, but with time and patience can often learn new skills and acquire knowledge to the same level as those without disabilities.
  • Has a more difficult time remembering things that are learned
  • Has a more difficult time transferring what is learned from one situation to a new situation
  • Thinks about things in more concrete ways
  • Keeps learning and developing throughout life just like anyone else
  • There are different levels of intellectual disability from mild to moderate to severe and each requires assistance that meets his/her in daily needs

Cerebral Palsy:
It is a disorder that affects a child’s ability to move, maintain balance and posture. The child has difficulty with body movement as a result of damage to the brain which may have occurred before, during or after the birth of the baby. It is the most common motor disability in childhood.

May have limited control over their movements in one or more of the following ways:

  • Excessive muscle tightening
  • Awkward or involuntary movements
  • Poor balance and poor motor coordination
  • Speech difficulties
  • Tremors or shaking that occur while trying to perform coordinated movements
  • Cerebral refers to the brain and Palsy to a condition that affects physical movement
  • Ranges from mild to severe
  • People can lead more independent lives through physical therapy and the use of wheelchairs

Epilepsy People with a diagnosis of epilepsy or seizure disorder tend to have recurring seizures, usually resulting from a disorder of the central nervous system. A seizure is often described as an abrupt electrical storm, or eruption, that occurs in the brain.


  • Has seizures related to other health issues
  • Can involve full body convulsions, brief partial movements, drop attacks, or lack of responsiveness (absence).
  • Anything that the brain can do in its normal function, it can do abnormally in the form of a seizure.
  • Frequently controlled by medications
  • Supports should be focused on safety and reassurance

Autism Spectrum Disorder: It is a spectrum (pervasive neurologically based developmental disability) which causes sever learning, communication and behavior disorder and varies from child to another.


  • Problems with social skills
  • Difficulties with communication
  • Difficulties reading or exhibiting typical emotional responses
  • Repetitive behavior
  • Problems with sensory integration (oversensitive to things in their environment like sounds, light)