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What are developmental disabilities?
Developmental disabilities are a group of conditions due to an impairment in physical, learning, language, or behavior areas. These conditions usually begin during the developmental period before birth, may impact day-to-day functioning, and usually last throughout a person’s lifetime according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention1. This can include attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), autism spectrum disorder, cerebral palsy, vision/hearing loss, cytomegalovirus (CMV) infection, toxoplasmosis, fetal alcohol syndrome, Down syndrome, fragile X syndrome, learning disabilities, or intellectual disabilities to name a few.
What causes developmental disabilities?
As many as one in six children are at risk for a developmental disability1. Developmental disabilities may be caused by various factors including genetic family health history; exposure of the mother or child to toxins in the environment; infections during pregnancy or during the child’s first years of life; parental health and behaviors such as smoking or drinking during pregnancy; low birth-weight due to poor diet; premature birth or multiple birth (such as twins, triplets, etc.); or head trauma injury during the course of the child’s lifetime. Even untreated newborn jaundice can lead to brain damage called kernicterus and other related complications. For all of these reasons prenatal care including a healthy diet, taking vitamins, and regular doctor visits are advised.
How can I track my child’s development?
Children are expected to reach certain language, social, and behavioral milestones from birth to the age of five years old including facial expressions such as smiling, making eye contact, reaching for objects, speaking, crawling, and walking. It is important to identify any developmental delays immediately so that interventions can begin as soon as possible. This is called developmental monitoring. Intervention is more effective and less expensive during the first few formative years of pre-school age children than later in life. You can obtain free downloadable tracking charts here at https://www.cdc.gov/features/trackmilestones/.
If I have concerns, where can I find help?
If you are concerned about whether or not your child is making adequate progress, you should check with your child’s doctor and share
You are not alone.
Lastly, remember that you are not alone. Reach out to family and trusted friends. Speak to a counselor for emotional support and ask about the availability of support groups in your area to share your experiences with other families. Seek spiritual counsel and be encouraged. Psalms chapter 139 in the Holy Bible assures each of us that we are fearfully and wonderfully made and that God is ever-present. Jesus is faithful to walk with us through the joys and challenges we face in life. Be blessed.
About the Blogger:
LaNesha R. Creeks, M.A., LPC-Intern is a Special Education Teacher and is certified as a school counselor. She is completing her internship at Harmony Counseling Center in Dallas, Texas.