Leading National Behavioral Healthcare Provider

Call 1-800-345-1292

  • COVID-19
  • COVID-19
  • COVID-19
  • Developmental Disabilities
  • Start an Online Fundraiser Today
  • Autism Success Story

Tweet Share on LinkedIn Send email Print

Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month: Breaking down barriers 

March is Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month, a time to recognize the many contributions made by youth and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities, and raise awareness of the challenges that remain for people with developmental disabilities. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that about one in six children in the U.S., between the ages of 3 and 17, have one or more developmental disabilities (e.g., autism spectrum disorders, intellectual disabilities, learning disorders). According to a recent study, the percentage of children in this age group diagnosed with developmental disabilities increased from 16.2 percent in 2009 to 17.8 percent in 2017.  

“At Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health, we strongly believe individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities can make a meaningful and positive difference in their homes, schools and communities, and should be given the same opportunities for inclusion, access and equality as those without disabilities,”  said Devereux Vice President of Operations – Adult Services Stephen Bruce, M.Ed., BCBA. “People with developmental disabilities are an integral part of our society – they have hopes and dreams like everyone else. These individuals deserve our respect, acceptance and assistance in achieving their goals and leading fulfilling lives.” 

Common barriers to accessibility

The CDC states that youth and adults with developmental disabilities often face barriers that can make it challenging to function on a daily basis. Common barriers include: 

  • Attitudinal: Negative attitudes based on a lack of knowledge of people with developmental disabilities.
  • Communication: Barriers experienced by individuals who use alternative ways of communicating due to disabilities that affect hearing, speaking, reading, writing or understanding.
  • Physical: Physical environments that prevent mobility or access.
  • Policy: Services, systems or policies that are either nonexistent or that hinder individuals from being involved in everyday life.
  • Programmatic: Lack of accessible medical equipment or insufficient time set aside for medical examinations or procedures.
  • Social: Limited opportunities for employment, education, training or support.
  • Transportation: Lack of accessible or convenient transportation that hinders a person’s ability to achieve greater independence. 

“In order to help individuals with developmental disabilities reach their full and unique potential, we need to break down these barriers,” Bruce explained. “We can do this by making an effort to understand the needs of these individuals; allowing youth and adults the opportunity to make their own decisions and choices based on their preferences; and providing opportunities for individuals to work, volunteer or participate in social groups and activities.” 

Increasing awareness; promoting inclusion

Each year, the National Association of Councils on Developmental Disabilities (NACDD) partners with the Association for University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD) and the National Disabilities Rights Network (NDRN) to launch a campaign to showcase the work being done to celebrate and improve the lives of individuals with developmental disabilities. This year, NACDD is encouraging the public to share stories on social media throughout the month of March – using the Twitter hashtag #DDAwareness20. 

In addition, March 4, 2020, is national “Spread the Word Day,” which highlights the importance of inclusion. Schools, workplaces and communities across the country hold events on Spread the Word Day and throughout the year to demonstrate their commitment to creating socially inclusive places for youth and adults with developmental disabilities to learn, work and live.

Devereux’s intellectual and developmental disabilities services

As part of Devereux’s continuum of care, the organization provides innovative programs and services for children, adolescents and adults with developmental disabilities, which vary by state, and include:  

  • Treatment in residential settings
  • Community-based living
  • Outpatient and other specialized services
  • Special education day schools
  • Therapeutic foster care
  • Employment and transition services 

Learn more about Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health. 


Latest News

Amy Kelly   Amy Kelly shares tips for helping families with special needs during the COVID-19 crisis on the My Autism Tribe podcast

Take a listen as Devereux National Director of Family Engagement Amy Kelly, MBA, MNM, shares tips for helping families and caregivers of children with emotional, behavioral and cognitive differences cope with the COVID-19 public health crisis on the My Autism Tribe podcast.

Yolanda Graham   Article featuring Dr. Yolanda Graham: “Mental health a priority for healthcare workers”

Read this Elite Healthcare article featuring Devereux Senior Vice President and Chief Clinical/Medical Officer Yolanda Graham, M.D., as she discusses the importance of prioritizing mental health in a company’s wellness program and overall culture.

Amy Kelly   Article featuring Amy Kelly: “COVID-19: Helping families with special needs during a public health crisis”

Read this Autism Journey article featuring Devereux National Director of Family Engagement Amy Kelly, MBA, MNM, as she shares steps families and caregivers of individuals with special needs can take to cope during the COVID-19 pandemic.

COVID-19   COVID-19: Helping families with special needs during a public health crisis

Devereux National Director of Family Engagement Amy Kelly, MBA, MNM, shares steps families and caregivers can take during the coronavirus crisis to provide reassurance to children and adults living with emotional, behavioral and cognitive differences.

Finding a voice   Finding a voice: Self-advocacy in action at Devereux New Jersey

One day per week, in one of 10 Devereux New Jersey vocational programs located across the Garden State, adults meet with staff to learn more about how to advocate for themselves.

Gender Affirmative Model   Putting principles into practice: Devereux embraces Gender Affirmative Model

As Devereux continues its efforts to become one of the most inclusive and diverse behavioral healthcare organizations in the U.S., the nonprofit is making great strides in implementing the American Psychological Association’s Gender Affirmative Model.

Conference inspires Devereux   Conference inspires Devereux’s administrative professionals to achieve ‘Customer Service Excellence’

Devereux recently held its second annual “Executive Support Summit” to help its administrative professional team focus on creating a culture of “Customer Service Excellence.”

Clemens Poetry   Erin Clemens’ journey with autism through poetry

Erin Clemens, who receives services through Devereux Pennsylvania, was recently inspired to write a poem about her journey with autism.

Ideas Collide   Inspiring hope: Devereux Arizona and Ideas Collide team up to provide suitcases for youth

Devereux Arizona is partnering with marketing communications firm Ideas Collide to provide suitcases for Devereux Arizona youth living with emotional, behavioral and cognitive differences.

More Stories