What is a Developmental Disability?

March is Developmental Disabilities Awareness month! Although I blogged  the definition of developmental disabilities here, I wanted to give you more information besides the Federal regulation. Quite often, people are confused between the definition of an intellectual disability and a developmental disability.

A developmental disability is described as an assortment of chronic conditions that are due to mental or physical impairments or both. For example, you may have a child or an adult with an intellectual disability or perhaps a person diagnosed with cerebral palsy and an intellectual disability. It is also considered a severe and chronic disability that can occur up to the age of 22, hence the word developmental. A developmental disability can occur before birth such as genetic disorders (i.e. cri du chat, fragile x syndrome,) or chromosomes ( i.e. Down syndrome, Edwards syndrome); during birth (lack of oxygen) or after birth up to the age of 22 (i.e. head injuries, child abuse or accidents).

The disability is likely to occur indefinitely meaning the person will require some type of ongoing service throughout their lives. Finally, the person must show limitations in 3 or more of the following areas of major life activities:

  1. Self-care– brushing teeth, hand-washing and combing hair independently
  2. Receptive and expressive language-ability to understand someone talking and to also be understood
  3. Learning– ability to read and write with understanding
  4. Mobilityability to move around without any assistance
  5. Self-direction– time management, organization
  6. Capacity for independent living– requiring no supervision
  7. Economic self-sufficiency – having a job  and purchasing what one needs

Here are some examples of a developmental disability:

Does everyone with a disability also have a developmental disability?

The answer is no. there are people with disabilities such as epilepsy and cerebral palsy simply have a disability based on the criteria listed above. However, many people with developmental disabilities quite often have a combination of disabilities. For example a child with autism may also have seizures and an intellectual disability or an adult may have cerebral palsy, intellectual disability and epilepsy. In addition there are many people in the spectrum of autism who also have ADHD and so forth.

So what’s the difference between an intellectual disability and a developmental disability?

A person with an intellectual disability falls under the category of a developmental disability meaning you can have an intellectual disability and a developmental disability. check here for the definition of an intellectual disability, you will see they are quite similar. Below is an infographic created by Centers on Disease Control:

An Infographic on Developmental Disabilities.




Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy

Image result for duchenne muscular dystrophy awareness month

February 13th is the first day of Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy Awareness Week. Here are some facts on Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy:

  • It is one of the nine types of muscular dystrophies
  • Duchenne muscular dystrophy was first described by French neurologist, Guillaune Benjamin Amand Duchenne in the 1860’s.
  • It is an inherited disorder
  • It is caused by an absence of dystrophin, a protein that bonds the muscle cell
  • It is characterized by progressive muscle degeneration
  • It occurs in about 1 out of every 3,600 male infants
  • Risks include a family history of Duchenne muscular dystrophy
  • Symptoms start appearing between the ages of 3-5.
  • By the age of 12, most males affected may lose their ability to walk
  • Breathing difficulties and heart disease usually start by the age of 20
  • Very rare are females affected by the disease.
  • Early symptoms include muscle weakness in the hips, pelvic area, thighs and shoulders.
  • By teen years, the heart and respiratory muscles are affected.
  • Duchenne muscular dystrophy carriers are females with one normal dystrophin gene on one x chromosome and an abnormal dystrophin gene on the other x chromosome
  • Most carriers do not show any signs or symptoms.
  • Affected children may have delayed motor skills including sitting, standing and walking.
  • Survival into the early 30’s is becoming more common due to advances in cardia and respiratory care.
  • Duchenne is associated with a heart disease that weakens the cardiac muscle
  • Between 400 and 600 boys in the United States are born with these conditions each year.
  • there are a few cases which results from new mutations in affected males
  • steroid drugs can slow the loss of muscular strength
  • There is no known cure for Duchenne muscular dystrophy

Dyspraxia Resources


October is Dyspraxia Month. Developmental Dyspraxia also known as Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD) , is a neurological disorder that affects fine and gross motor skills and organization. A child may have difficulty in sing scissors, riding a bike or learning and recalling information.



Medical Sites- The following sites include information on causes, treatment, test and diagnoses of Dyspraxia:

Medical News Today
NCBI Resources


Dyspraxia Foundation, UK
Dyspraxia Foundation, USA


YouTube Videos