What is a Developmental Disability?

The more we understand about developmental disabilities, the more remarkable they seem. Here are some of the basics so you can see for yourself how amazing these people really are.

What is Developmental Disability?

Developmental disability is the broad term used to describe a range of conditions that affect physical and/or mental functioning. For one condition to be considered developmental, it must manifest early on in life (usually before age 18) and have long-lasting effects for the person with this diagnosis. Developmental disabilities often don’t manifest until a child reaches the age of three and sometimes longer. It is essential for parents to take appropriate steps in early childhood like talking, reading, singing with their children so they can fully develop themselves by being able to communicate when it’s time.

Common Developmental Disabilities

Developmental disabilities not only affect the mind of an individual, but can also cause physical limitations. Intellectual disability is one of the most common developmental conditions as it often presents with lower cognitive abilities and skills in reasoning or problem-solving that lead to difficulties adapting to new situations. Autism spectrum disorder has similar symptoms because a person cannot process sensory information properly which leads them into repetitive behaviors and social isolation from others who don’t understand what’s happening inside their head. Down syndrome occurs when there are three copies rather than two chromosomes 21, 22, & 23 instead of just chromosome 21 for this condition also causes intellectual impairment like autism does however they tend towards more specific areas such as speech comprehension while other people struggle generalizing concepts like math problems due to diminished intelligence.

What Causes Developmental Disabilities?

Of all the things that can cause developmental disabilities, not many have a clear and definite root. There are clues from time to time, but for most cases it’s just unknown. Sometimes, a healthy and typically functioning parent can have their child born with a developmental disability. Other known causes of developmental disabilities include:

  • Drug or alcohol abuse during pregnancy
  • Genetic disorders such as Down Syndrome or Fragile X syndrome
  • Accidents during infancy or childhood that cause trauma to the brain
  • Malnutrition
  • Infectious diseases
  • Abuse and neglect
  • While the direct cause may not be known in many cases, developmental disabilities always result from a failure of brain development.

Characteristics of Developmental Disabilities

All children develop differently, with some taking a slower pace than others. However, to help them reach their fullest potential and the best version of themselves it is important for parents or guardians to monitor these developmental milestones closely:

  • speech/language skills;
  • communication abilities;
  • physical ability (walking, sitting);
  • social behaviors (being in crowds)
  • and behavioral traits like self-harming behavior.

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