NJCMO Newsletter

What are the different types of developmental disabilities?

Developmental disabilities can be classified into four categories: intellectual disability, autism spectrum disorder, physical disability, and sensory disability.

  • Intellectual disability is characterized by difficulties in intellectual functioning and adaptive behavior. This can include difficulty with academic skills, such as reading and math; social skills, such as communication and interacting with others; and everyday living skills, such as dressing oneself and brushing one’s teeth. 
  • Autism spectrum disorder is characterized by difficulties in social interaction, communication, and repetitive behaviors. 
  • Physical disability is characterized by difficulties in mobility, coordination, and/or fine motor skills. 
  • Sensory disability is characterized by difficulties in hearing, vision, touch, taste, or smell.

Developmental disabilities can vary in severity, so some people with a developmental disability may need very little support while others may require more significant assistance with daily activities.

What causes developmental disabilities?

There is no one answer to this question as the cause of developmental disabilities can vary. In some cases, the cause may be unknown. However, possible causes of developmental disabilities include genetic abnormalities, exposure to toxins or infections during pregnancy, and complications during birth.

How are developmental disabilities diagnosed?

The diagnosis of developmental disabilities in youth is an important process that helps inform the proper care and interventions needed for the individual. Early diagnosis can help identify any potential issues that may be affecting a child’s development, allowing clinicians to guide parents and education professionals to adjust their strategies in order to best support the individual. In addition, early intervention is key for addressing any issues that have already been identified. This typically involves providing psychosocial services such as counseling, occupational therapy, speech-language therapy, educational support, and other family-focused interventions. Through these forms of treatment and support, children are better equipped to reach their full potential in all aspects of life.

How common are developmental disabilities?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 1 in 6 children in the United States has a developmental disability. The most common developmental disabilities are autism spectrum disorder, cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, intellectual disability, and sensory processing disorder.

What kind of support is available for children with developmental disabilities?

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to treating developmental disabilities, but early intervention and support services can help improve communication, social, and academic skills. Treatment options will vary depending on the type and severity of developmental disability.

Some common intervention and support services for developmental disabilities include developmental therapies, such as speech therapy and occupational therapy; behavior management programs; educational programs; and social support groups. 

Where can you find help for your child with developmental disabilities?

Your local care management organization (CMO) can help connect you with resources and support services to enhance your child’s functioning and overall well-being. 

The CMO uses the Wraparound model to help families navigate the system of care and access services which include: behavioral supports, applying for eligibility for DD services, respite, Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA), individual support services, assistance with activities of daily living (ADLs), crisis stabilization, and family support services. 

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