2021 Special Needs Awareness Observance Calendar

Download printable here: 2021 Special Needs Awareness Observance Calendar
Did you know that 1 in 6 or 15% of  children aged 3 through 17 have one or more developmental disabilities? Or that according to the World Health Organization (WHO) that over a billion people live with some form of disability? This means that nearly 1 in 7 people on Earth have some form of a disability. For this reason, disability awareness and acceptance is more important now than ever before.

What is the Purpose of Disability Awareness?

Disability awareness serves many purposes including informing and educating people on a certain cause.  In some cases organizations and agencies use it as part of their annual campaign in an effort to bring awareness and raise money for their cause. Employers often conduct trainings on disability awareness as an effort to educate employees and to decrease bullying in the workplace. Disability awareness also can be used to address myths, misconceptions and the realities of having a disability.  Ribbons are also used that are specific to awareness activities. Through disability awareness campaigns it is hoped that people learn and develop a greater understanding of those with a disability. Annual awareness observances are sponsored by federal, health and non-profit organizations. In some cases observances are worldwide including World Autism Awareness Day or World Cerebral Palsy Day.

Types of Awareness Campaigns

Awareness campaigns fall under three categories:

  • Day- this is often held on the same day each year regardless of the day it falls under. There are cases where an awareness day falls on a specific day such as the last Thursday of a month.
  • Week – The dates dates change and vary based on the week. In some cases, awareness activities are held on the first week of the month to the fourth week of the month
  • Month- activities and awareness celebrations are held throughout the month.
The 2021 calendar includes major special needs awareness days, weeks, and months. Most websites include awareness toolkits, promotional material and fact sheets. This page focuses on awareness activities that impact people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Click on the month below to go to a specific month.
January /February/March/ April/ May/June/July/September/October/November/December

January     

Louis Braille

                                             

January (Month)

National Birth  Defects Month

January 4- World Braille Day

January 20- International Day of Acceptance

January 24- Moebius Syndrome Awareness Day

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

February

February (Month)

Turner Syndrome Awareness Month

February (Week)

February 7-14 Congenital Heart Defect Awareness Week

February 8-12 Feeding Tube Awareness

February (Day)

February 15- International Angelman Day

February 28- Rare Disease Day

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

March

March (Month)

Cerebral Palsy Awareness Month

Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month

Kidney Awareness Month

Multiple Sclerosis Month

Social Work Awareness Month

Trisomy Awareness Month

March (Week)

March 21-27- Poison Prevention Week

March (Day)

March 1- Self-Injury Day

March 1- International Wheelchair Day

March 21- World Down Syndrome Day

March 26- Purple Day for Epilepsy

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

April

April (Day)

April 2- World Autism Awareness Day 

April 7- Paraprofessional Appreciation Day

May

Better Hearing and Speech Month

Ehlers-Danlos Awareness Month

Mental Health Awareness Month

National Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month

National Osteoporosis Awareness and Prevention Month

National Mobility Awareness Month

Prader Willi Syndrome Awareness Month

Williams Syndrome Awareness Month

May (Week)

May 5-12- Cri du Chat Awareness Week

May (Day)

May 1- Global Developmental Delay Day

May 5- World Asthma Day

May 14- Apraxia Awareness Day

May 19- National Schizencephaly Awareness Day

May 15- Tuberous Sclerosis Global Awareness Day

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

June

June (Month)

Aphasia Awareness Month

Tourette Syndrome Awareness Month

June (Week)

Helen Keller Deaf-Blind Awareness Week (Last Sunday in June)

June (Day)

June 7- Tourette Syndrome Awareness Day

June 17- CDKL5 Awareness Day 

June 23- Dravet Syndrome Awareness Day (Canada)

 

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

July

July (Month)

National Cleft and Craniofacial Awareness and Prevention Month

National Fragile X Syndrome Awareness Month

July (Day)

July 18- Disability Awareness Day (UK)

July 22- National Fragile X Syndrome Awareness Day

July 26- American Disability Act Day

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

September

September (Month)

Chiari Awareness Month

Craniofacial Acceptance Month

Cortical Visual Impairment (CVI) Awareness Month

Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy Awareness

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Syndrome Awareness Month

Hydrocephalus Awareness Month

National Spinal Cord Awareness Month

Sickle Cell Awareness Month

Sepsis Awareness Month

September 7- World Duchenne Awareness Day

September 9- Fetal Alcohol Awareness Day

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

October

ADHD Awareness Month

Disability History Month

Down Syndrome Awareness Month

Dysautonomia Awareness

National Disability Employment Awareness Month

National Dyslexia Awareness Month

Occupational Therapy Awareness Month

October (Day)

October 6- World Cerebral Palsy Day

October 15- White Cane Awareness Day

October (Week)

October 13-19 Invisible Disabilities Week

Rett Syndrome Awareness Month

Spinal Bifida Awareness Month

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

November

22q Awareness Month

Epilepsy Awareness Month

November 1- LGS Awareness Day

November 7- National Stress Awareness Day

November 15- World Ohtahara Syndrome Awareness Day

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

December

December 3- International Day of Persons with Disabilities

December 1-7- Infantile Spasm

Updated 1/5/2021

What is Cerebral Palsy?

What is Cerebral Palsy?

Cerebral Palsy is a collection of motor disorders resulting from damage to the brain that can occur before, during and after birth. Congenital cerebral palsy indicates that a person developed cerebral palsy at birth which is the case of the majority of people with cerebral palsy. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Cerebral Palsy (CP) is a group of disorders that affect a person’s ability to move and maintain balance and posture. It is the most common motor disability in childhood. It is estimated that an average of 1 in 345 children in the U.S. have cerebral palsy. For many years, it was thought cerebral palsy was due to lack of oxygen. Studies show this only accounts for 19% of all cases.

Prevalence and Characteristics
  • Around 764,000 people in the United states have at least one symptom of cerebral palsy
  • Around 10,000 babies are born each year with cerebral palsy
  • Boys are diagnosed more often than girls
  • Cerebral palsy is the mot commonly diagnosed childhood motor disability in the United States
  • Over 77% of children with cerebral palsy have the spastic form
  • More than 50% of all children with cerebral palsy can walk independently
  • African American children with cerebral palsy are 1.7 times more likely to need assistance with walking or be unable to walk at all
  • Around 41% of babies and children with cerebral palsy will have limited abilities in crawling, walking and running.
  • Around 41% children with cerebral palsy in the United states have some form of a cognitive disorder
  • Behavior problems are common in children with cerebral palsy including social skills and anger issues.
  • Seizures are a common associate disorder of cerebral palsy and can range from mild to extreme severe.
  • There is no known cure
What Causes Cerebral Palsy?

Studies show that about 10 to 20 percent of children with cerebral palsy acquire the disorder after birth. This includes through infections, jaundice, RH incompatibility and severe oxygen shortage in the brain.

Types of Cerebral Palsy

Ataxic- indicates the muscle tone is too low or too loose

  • affects 5 to 10 percent of people with cerebral palsy
  • movements are unsteady and shaking
  • have difficulty making quick movements

Spastic- refers to the inability of  muscle to relax

  • is the most common type of cerebral palsy
  • 70-80% of people have spastic cerebral palsy
  • will have difficulty moving from one position to another

Athetoid-uncontrolled twisting movements

  • Affects 10 to 20% of people with cerebral palsy
  • often have difficulty holding themselves in an upright position
  • muscles move involuntarily causing limbs to twitch

Thanksgiving and Mealtime Precautions

mealtime_thanksgiving_logo

Thanksgiving is the day set aside in the United States and Canada as a day of pausing to reflect all that we are thankful for by connecting with friends and family over good food. It is also the day of taking special precautions when serving people with developmental disabilities.

Aspiration is a huge risk during the holiday season. Factors that place people at risk for aspiration includes the following:

  • Being fed by someone else
  • Poor chewing or swallowing skills
  • Weak or absent coughing/gagging reflexes which is common in people with cerebral palsy or muscular dystrophy
  • Eating to quickly
  • Inappropriate fluid consistency
  • Inappropriate food texture

For children and adults with autism, Thanksgiving may be a challenge for a variety of reasons:

  • Sensory and emotional overload with large groups
  • Picky eaters
  • Difficulty with various textures of food

To help you mange Thanksgiving with ease, click on the articles below:

5 simple steps to hosting an autism-friendly Thanksgiving

8 tips for managing Thanksgiving with children with autism

10 genius ways to help your autistic picky eater to eat this Thanksgiving

Autism and Picky Eating

Autism and Thanksgiving: How to cope with the feasting and hubbub

Feeding kids with sensory processing disorders

Preparing for Thanksgiving on the autism spectrum

Swallowing problems? What to do about Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving dinner ideas for speech therapy activities

Tips for Navigating Thanksgiving on the Spectrum

 

Updated 08/26/2020

Cerebral Palsy and Secondary Issues

Cerebral palsy affects people differently including; learning disabilities, intellectual disabilities, behavioral challenges, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), and Executive Function Disorder. People with cerebral palsy often have medical issues as well including, epilepsy, hydrocephalus, swallowing difficulties, vision problems, aspiration and constipation.

Seizures
  • a seizure is a sudden, out of control event that can cause involuntary movement.
  • It occurs when there are bursts of abnormal electrical activity in the brain which interferes with normal brain functioning.
  • The brain constantly sends unusual electrical messages very close together.
  • Inform the participants that seizures are the most common of associated problems.
  • Experts believe that seizures are the result of scarred tissue in the brain.
  • About 50% of people with cerebral palsy suffer from seizures.
  • Epilepsy is more common in the child with spastic quadriplegic
  • Complex partial seizures are the most common in people with cerebral palsy
  • in most cases, it is unknown the cause of seizures.

Cases which the cause is known include

  • Serious brain injury
  • Lack of oxygen
  • Bleeding in the brain
  • Infection in the brain including meningitis and encephalitis
  • Inflammation of the brain
  • Co-occurring conditions that involve an intellectual or developmental disabilities

Treating Seizures

  • Try to keep calm and make sure the person having the seizure is comfortable and safe from harm.
  • A seizure can last from a second or several minutes

Do Not:

  • Do not hold the person down or try to stop his or her movements.
  • Do not put anything in the person’s mouth. This can injure teeth or the jaw. A person having a seizure cannot swallow his or her tongue.
  • Do not try to give mouth-to-mouth breaths (CPR). People usually start breathing again on their own after a seizure.
  • Do not offer the person water or food until he or she is fully alert.

After the seizure:

  • After the seizure ends, the person will probably be groggy and tired. He or she also may have a headache and be confused or embarrassed. Try to help the person find a place to rest.
Vision Issues
  • The term blindness refers to complete impairment of vision
  • Visual impairment refers to diminished vison or low vision but not total blindness.
  • A person’s right side may include problems with muscles that control the right eye making it difficult for the affected eye to move from side to side.
  • People may appear to be crossed eyes.
  • Explain that people with cerebral palsy may have a condition called strabismus, where eyes do not line up and focus properly because of differences between the left and right eye muscles
  • May only impact one eye which happens to those whose cerebral palsy affect one side of the body.
Learning Disability
  • People with cerebral palsy may have a short attention span, motor difficulties, perceptual difficulties and language difficulties
  • This can impact literacy, numeracy and other important skills.
  • Learning disabilities may also affect fine and gross motor coordination
  • They may tire easily since they have to put more effort into concentrating on their movements and sequence of actions.
ADHD
  • A disorder of the executive function of the brain that allows a person to focus and organize
  • It is a developmental disability that occurs in approximately 3 to 5% of children
  • 19% of children with cerebral palsy will be diagnosed with ADHD
Hydrocephalus 
  • Enlargement of the fluid filled spaces in and around the brain known as ventricles
  • To correct the damaging effects, the fluid build-up is performed involving a shunt
Behavior Challenges
  • Children and adults with cerebral palsy may be more prone to having problems controlling their impulses as well as having difficulty with focus and attention
Hearing Loss
  • Birth injuries can cause partial or complete loss of vision and or hearing in many individuals
  • Possible result of physical damage to the ear due to inflammation of built-up
  • Senorineural hearing loss- nerves that transmit sound information from the outside world to the brain are damaged
Tube Feeding
  • Gastrostomy is used with children with significant eating, drinking and swallowing difficulties to ensure they received enough food and drink.
  • It is surgically placed through the abdominal wall to feed formula, liquids and medication directly to the stomach.
Intellectual Disability
  • Approximately 2/3 of people with cerebral palsy have an intellectual disability
  • 1/3 have Mild
  • 1/3- Moderate
  • 1/3- Normal IQ
  • Children with spastic quadriplegia are more likely to have an intellectual disability

Accommodations for Students with Physical Disabilities

 

Accommodations for physical disabilities 

Inclusive teaching; physical disability

Instructional strategies for students with physical disabilities 

Strategies in helping students with physical disabilities in the classroom using IDEA

Supporting students with physical disabilities

Teaching students with physical disabilities 

Tips for working with students with medical or physical disabilities