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Developmental Disabilities Awareness: Helping individuals with disabilities lead fulfilling lives



Ron, who participates in Devereux N.J.’s supported employment program, has worked at a McDonald’s restaurant in Newton, New Jersey, since October 2023.

“I work as a crew member and dishwasher at McDonald’s. I like working there – I like cleaning the dishes and the dining room.”
Ron, Devereux New Jersey individual

March is Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month, and Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health is celebrating the many remarkable achievements of youth and adults with developmental disabilities – like Ron – and highlighting the importance of helping these individuals lead productive and fulfilling lives.

“Children, adolescents and adults with disabilities want to be recognized for their abilities,” said Devereux National Director of Intellectual and Developmental Disability Services Carol Anne McNellis, Psy.D., BCBA. “A disability does not define who a person is, but rather, is just one aspect of that person’s life. Each individual has a unique set of skills and talents to offer this world. At Devereux, we want to help all those we serve build upon their strengths – and achieve their dreams.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about one in six children in the U.S., ages 3 to 17, have one or more developmental disability (e.g., autism spectrum disorder, intellectual disability, learning disorder).

Making connections, contributions

One individual who is making meaningful connections and contributions in the community with support from Devereux New Jersey – is Ron.

Since October 2023, Ron, who is enrolled in the organization’s supported employment program, has worked at a McDonald’s restaurant in Newton, New Jersey.

“I wash dishes and clean chairs and tables,” Ron shared. “I like to make money.”

Devereux New Jersey Supported Employment Manager Jacob Hettrich noted, “Our supported employment program helps adults, including Ron, find and maintain competitive employment. We meet the individuals we serve where they are – we learn their strengths and help them build upon those strengths to secure employment. We provide skills assessments, and assist them in creating resumes, preparing for job interviews and fostering relationships with employers. Ron is reaching his goals, and we cannot wait to see what he accomplishes next.”

Learning new skills, setting new goals

Ron credits Devereux New Jersey with teaching him the importance of self-advocacy and self-care, as well as how to pay bills and do laundry.

“Devereux has helped me a lot, ” he said.

When he is not working at McDonald’s, Ron enjoys lifting weights, going for walks, listening to music and watching TV. As for what the future holds, Ron hopes to one day, “cook for myself, get my own place, work independently and get married.”

He notes, “I want others to see my achievements, and I want to encourage them.”


To celebrate the accomplishments of individuals with developmental disabilities, and communicate the importance of inclusion, the National Association of Councils on Developmental Disabilities (NACDD) holds an annual social media campaign during Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month.

In recognition of this year’s theme – “A World of Opportunities” – the NACDD is encouraging the public to share stories, photos, videos and resources on social media throughout the month of March that “highlight the many ways that people with, and without disabilities, come together to form strong, diverse communities,” using the hashtags #DDawareness2024, #DDAM2024, #AWorldofOpportunities or #NewOpportunities.

Learn more about Devereux New Jersey, and learn more about Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health.


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