Move on With Developmental Disabilities – It Isn’t a Show Stopper

In United States developmental disabilities are best described as life-long disabilities that can be either physical or mental impairments or even disabilities that usually develop in a person prior to the completion of teen age. All those disabilities that prove to be a hindrance to the normal day to day activities of an individual are grouped under this.

The capability for independent living, the individual’s learning ability, self-stability, self-direction, expressive and receptive language, self care and mobility. It is based on the individual ailments and one’s own environment, the above mentioned areas get affected negatively and which in turn leads to the development of disabilities. It is always better to get opinions from many doctors when diagnosing for a developmental disability.

Generally, people who are suffering from the below mentioned conditions are put under the scanning for developmental disabilities. Mental retardation, various genetic as well as chromosomal disorders including, but not limited to, Down syndrome and Fragile X syndrome, Autism Spectrum Disorder, cerebral palsy and as well as Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder. The above listed are just a few of the many conditions that may be diagnosed for developmental disabilities.

As described earlier, it is very much difficult for the individuals who are suffering from the above said conditions to lead a normal living, just like the other people. And one should also not forget the fact that raising a child which is suffering from developmental disabilities is equally tough. It is the responsibility of the family members to take care of the individual and help them in their day to day life activities, so as to make them lead a normal life. Most of those people, who suffer from this condition, can usually understand what the problem is and can overcome it with the little help that they require.

The answer to the question “how their lives are led?” usually depends on each and every individual’s capability. Getting things done on time will always be a problem for those suffering from developmental disabilities. Life remains hard for everyone but is exceptionally unfair for those with developmental disabilities. More important that leading a life is having a life. So many babies are born dead and many more get aborted during pregnancy, we are lucky to be born in this world and so are anybody with a disability, so treat them with proper care.

Don’t ever lose hope and have a fighting attitude are the key points one must learn to live with a developmental disability. Always make sure that you live life to its fullest and continue in finding ways to move on. Life will seldom stop throwing many curve balls in a person’s direction and the fact is, it is solely the individual’s responsibility to swing and move ahead. Never ever give up, should be the key words for somebody with developmental disability to adhere, which will help them lead a peaceful life. The best thing a person with developmental disability can do is to accept the pain and find many other beautiful reasons to live his/her life.

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Developmental Disabilities in the 1800’s

At the beginning of the 1800’s, science began attempting to replace religion. Society was encouraged to view the world scientifically, and communities began to hospitalize and medically treat the intellectually and developmentally disabled. The early medical practices towards the disabled were by no means satisfactory and led to several new humiliating experiments and malpractices. Although flawed, this was the first step towards change and a view that developmental disabilities could potentially be a manageable disease rather than a sin.

Developmental disabilities were less looked at as a sin, yet it was still considered to be genetic. Standard thought of the period viewed disabilities as the root of almost all social evils, including alcoholism, prostitution, poverty and violent crimes. For this reason, disabled people, especially those labeled as mentally retarded were sterilized, usually forcefully, in an attempt to control the spreading of disabilities from one generation to the next.

The modern book of the time, called “The Almosts: the Study of the Feeble-Minded,” referred to disabled individuals as “almost human.” In spite of this disgraceful term, the book was instrumental in understanding the condition of the developmentally disabled and trying to provide them with medical treatment. Mental hospitals, also then referred to as “Institutions for Idiots,” were established throughout the United States; one of the first being in Massachusetts in the year 1848. Unlike earlier institutes, where the disabled were humiliated and mocked, the hospitals in the early and mid-1800’s showcased empathy and respect towards the developmentally disabled and mentally retarded patients. It was believed that with the correct approach, disabled people could be trained to take care of themselves and that their disabilities could be managed considerably. For the first time in 1878, Down’s Syndrome was recognized and treated as a separate disability. Studied by Dr. John Langdon Down at the Royal Asylum for Idiots in England, he termed people afflicted by Down’s Syndrome as “Mongoloid Idiots” or “Mongols”. A hospital for epilepsy was created in Ohio in 1878 and the “State Asylum for Unteachable Idiots” was created in New York in the same year. It is evident that terms such as “feeble-minded”, “idiots” and “unteachable idiots” was commonly used to refer to developmentally and intellectually disabled individuals.

While the 1800’s started out as a promising time for the disabled, the treatment and care at hospitals and institutes rapidly degraded and worsened. As an attempt to study severe developmental disabilities were made, the optimism that disabled people could be treated and cured waned. By the late 1800’s, it was widely believed that no proper treatment existed for the disabled and such people were again subjected to ridicule and abuse. Institutes turned into asylums for the mentally retarded; the only place they could find shelter in but also a place where they were mistreated and humiliated. Often the disabled were chained to their beds all day in these asylums and any medical treatment they were initially provided, was soon given up on.

Bobby Harris is a driven, experienced and knowledgeable professional within areas such as healthcare, childhood education,abuse intervention and crisis prevention; organizational leadership and intellectual / developmental disabilities.

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