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Young cerebral palsy patient

Kindness Counts: What You Should Know about Developmental Disabilities

What you don’t know about developmental disabilities may surprise you, which is why learning about them is so important. It builds awareness about people who have developmental disabilities, and with education comes inclusion, acceptance and compassion.

Developmental Disabilities Are More Common Than You Think

Would you believe you probably already know someone who has a developmental disability? One in six children ages 3 to 17 have one or more the following developmental disabilities

  • ADHD
  • Autism spectrum disorder
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Hearing loss
  • Intellectual disability
  • Learning disability
  • Vision impairment

7 Ways To Treat Others With Developmental Disabilities

Many people aren’t sure how to interact with someone who has a developmental disability.  Too often, they get treated differently, or worse, get completely ignored or overlooked. People with developmental disabilities deserve the same dignity you extend to others every day. Things to remember: 

  1. Acknowledge the person. Make eye contact and say hello. 
  2. Speak clearly and calmly. You don’t need to shout. 
  3. Listen actively. Give them your full attention. 
  4. Meet the individual at their level. Don’t talk above them.
  5. Speak to the individual, not the individual’s caregiver or guardian. Let them advocate and communicate for themselves.
  6. Be patient. It may take someone with a developmental disability longer to answer or to complete a task. Don’t do things for them unless asked.
  7. Remember that a developmental disability is not what defines a person. 

It’s important to include these individuals in everyday life. Treating each person with dignity and respect makes our society better as a whole. 

Originally Published: February 2022. Updated: August 2022. 

Michael Pella, LIMHP
Michael Pella, LIMHP

Michael Pella, LIMHP is a Mental health Therapist at CHI Health.

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