Developmental Disabilities and Professionals – Developmental Disabilities

With the number of Americans with developmental disabilities surpassing 4.5 million in 2010, it is more important than ever to understand, engage, and help assimilate the disabled into the workforce. Program Development Associates understands this need and provides training resources to help social service agents, Human Resources departments, and other professionals communicate, train, and motivate those with developmental disabilities.Developmental disabilities are an eclectic group of mild to chronic conditions characterized by severe mental or physical impairment. Individuals with such disabilities can have difficulty developing the skills to learn, communicate, move, and live independently. By definition, this spectrum of disorders manifests itself by the time the individual reaches twenty two years of age. The four most common forms include Mental retardation, Autism, Cerebral Palsy, and Down syndrome.Mental RetardationMental retardation is by far the most common of developmental disabilities. Typically manifesting itself before the individual reaches the age of 18, this condition is defined by the American Association of Mental Retardation as a significant limitation in both intellectual functioning and adaptive behavior (i). Redefinition of the condition in 2002 paints a positive picture, placing heavy emphasis on the ability for the individual to become more functional and adaptive when provided with carefully constructed individual supports. With today’s advanced multimedia disability training resources, individuals can learn to provide these support systems and help mentally impaired individuals develop their intellectual capabilities.AutismFew disabilities are as complex and elusive as Autism. The variance in ability, from functional to severely debilitating, suggests miscellany in the causal factors depending on the individuals unique genetic makeup (ii). However, it has recently been proposed that the condition is deeply rooted in the abnormal architecture of neurotransmitters in the brain. Further, the degree to which the condition is expressed seems to hinge on the presence and extent of other impairments, such as mental retardation. Autism develops in about every one or two children per thousand, expressed most strongly during the ages of three to five years. The earlier symptoms are identified, the more likely the individual can learn effective communication and social skills. Symptoms may become more acute or progressively chronic as these individuals develop into adults. Thus, it is of extreme importance to understand Autistic professionals on a personal level as the nature of the disorder can differ profoundly from individual to individual. Human Resources professionals are encouraged to engage in disability training and education catered towards Autistic individuals in specific.Cerebral PalsyAccording to the New England Journal of Medicine, Cerebral Palsy is a broad, inclusive term for a group of capricious but non progressive motor impairment syndromes secondary to anomalies of the brain arising in the early stages of development (iii). A majority of cases are termed Congenital, caused by inadequacies of blood or oxygen supply to the unborn child, illness during pregnancy, or premature birth. The remaining minority of cases are termed Acquired, caused by head trauma, infections, or severe malnutrition shortly after the birth of the child. Whether Congenital or Acquired, individuals with Cerebral Palsy have the potential to be valuable assets to any company. Communication technology and mobility devices help these individuals to speak and move freely, however, the office environment and culture must also be built to foster physical accessibility and understanding of individuals with Cerebral Palsy.Down SyndromeCaused by a chromosomal defect, Down syndrome is seen in an estimated 1 in 700 people. These individuals exhibit physical characteristics unique to the syndrome, including low muscle tone and small stature, as well as a varying degree of intellectual impairment (iv). Life expectancy for individuals with Down syndrome has more than tripled to sixty years since the early 1980s as researchers have made profound discoveries in the field of genetics and chromosomal development. In addition, cognitive delays are typically mild or moderate, making communication with an individual with Down syndrome easy relative to other chronic mental conditions. Several disability education resources are available to help professionals facilitate communication with these individuals, both in the workplace and in the home.While developmental disabilities can vary in terms of severity, disabled individuals can nonetheless lead healthy, productive, and meaningful adult lives. The extent to which this can be realized hinges largely upon the unimpaired and our ability to promote disability awareness in the workplace. As disability training resources are utilized by professionals, more disabled Americans can transition into the office to make profound contributions. Disability education, whether taken on in the home or at the office, is a necessary for professionals in all industries to learn about and aid the disabled in their pursuit for fulfillment in society. Program Development Associates passionately links professionals with the educational resources necessary to help disabled individuals develop as professionals. P.D.A. also offers a free disability education resource catalog of D.V.D.s, C.D.s, videos, interactive board games, and gaming software.References:
(i) Kuban, K., & Leviton, A. (1994). Cerebral palsy. New England Journal of Medicine, 330(3), 188-195.
(ii) Huebner, R.A., and Dunn, W. (2001). Introduction and basic concepts. In Huebner, R.A., (Ed.), Autism: A sensorimotor approach to management (pp. 3-40). Gaithersburg, MD: Aspen Publishing, Inc.
(iii) Kuban, K., & Leviton, A. (1994). Cerebral palsy. New England Journal of Medicine, 330(3), 188-195.
(iv) Kuban, K., & Leviton, A. (1994). Cerebral palsy. New England Journal of Medicine, 330(3), 188-195.