The Month of March was Proclaimed by Governor Wolf to be Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month.
Developmental Disabilities are a group of conditions due to an impairment in physical, learning, language, or behavior areas. These conditions begin during the developmental period, may impact day-to-day functioning, and usually last throughout a person's lifetime.
There are four main types of developmental disorders: nervous system disabilities, sensory-related disabilities, metabolic disabilities and degenerative disorders. Many different subsets of disabilities nest under these four main groups.
Intellectual Disability (ID), is characterized by below-average intelligence or mental ability and a lack of skills necessary for day-to-day living. People with intellectual disabilities can and do learn new skills, but they learn them more slowly.
The best way to communicate with someone with a disability is learning how they communicate best. The first steps regardless of the method of communication are being polite and being patient. Do not rush the conversation, speak to the person rather than the person with them. You can then ask the person they are with what is the best way to communicate with the person since there can be different ways to communicate. If you are having difficulty, try asking yes or no questions to communicate in a more effective way.
There is also Special Olympics for everyone that has Developmental Disabilities but has always wanted to show off their skills to the world. There they can learn teamwork, learn and sharpen skills of their favorite game, make friends, grow and simply have fun.
Our goal is to make sure that everyone feels included and part of the community regardless of their disability. For this reason, the month of March is dedicated to reaching as many people as possible by making them aware that, yes, people with disabilities want to be included just like everyone else. Although communities throughout the country have made better progress initiating diversity and inclusion of disabled individuals, we still have a way to go.
Inclusion may mean reasonable accommodations, and most of the time, the accommodation needed for full inclusion is something very minor. Actively listening, being made aware, and thinking more creatively can sometimes be the solution to helpful and inexpensive accommodations. Individuals with disabilities are so grateful for these accommodations, and to feel genuinely included can go a long way in a person’s life.
We see this when hiring individuals in our workplaces. When everyone is struggling for supportive employees, hiring an individual on the spectrum of Autism, Down Syndrome, or possibly a Learning Disability can prove very useful and rewarding! It may take some patience to coach and train someone with special needs. But many times, modifying some basic work processes for an individual showing up to work promptly and is pleasant with a unique and invaluable skillset has been very motivating for many. Let’s also not forget the loyalty we see when providing someone with a disability a chance.