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Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month: Recognizing the unique strengths of individuals with disabilities


As part of Devereux’s continuum of care, the organization provides innovative programs and services for children, adolescents and adults with developmental disabilities.

“I’ve been employed by Wendy’s for 12 years. I love the people and my co-workers. Everyone is so nice to me, and I enjoy working on the French fry station. My job coach is also very nice and always helps me stay on track.”
Carrie, Devereux New Jersey individual

March is Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month, and Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health is raising awareness about the importance of inclusion for children, adolescents and adults with developmental disabilities – like Carrie – and celebrating the unique strengths and vital contributions of these individuals.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about one in six children in the U.S., ages 3 to 17, have one or more developmental disability, such as:

  • Autism spectrum disorder
  • Intellectual disability
  • Learning disability
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder
  • Hearing loss
  • Vision impairment
  • Other developmental delay

“Everyone has something special to offer and we all want to belong. When we look beyond a disability, we discover an incredible individual with diverse skills and talents who wants to be accepted, respected and included,” said Devereux National Director of Intellectual and Developmental Disability Services Carol Anne McNellis, Psy.D., BCBA. “At Devereux, we strive to help those with developmental disabilities build positive relationships, create meaningful connections in their communities and lead productive and fulfilling lives.”

Promoting inclusion

To highlight the importance of inclusion, the National Association of Councils on Developmental Disabilities (NACDD) holds an annual social media campaign during Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month.

The NACDD encourages the public to share stories, photos, videos and resources on social media throughout the month of March that “showcase the excellent work that is being done to celebrate and improve the lives of people with developmental disabilities” using the hashtags #DDAwareness2023 and #DDAM2023.

Devereux’s programs and services

As part of Devereux’s continuum of care, the organization provides innovative and inclusive 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

McNellis says it is vital that people with disabilities have access to the same employment and community engagement opportunities as those without disabilities so they can build self-confidence, utilize their skills and achieve their goals.

Thriving in the community

At Devereux New Jersey, adults enrolled in the center’s supported employment program receive individualized job placement and coaching based on their interests, strengths and needs. Look below to find out how just a few of them are thriving in the community at their local McDonald’s restaurants.

“I like the customers, managers, my job and making money. I have the best job coach. She assists me with my job duties.”

“I like helping the customers and taking out the trash.”

“I like cleaning, cooking, preparing the drinks and taking the food out to the customers. My job coach helps me create a checklist of my duties and we check everything off as we go.”

McNellis noted, “With a little support, those with developmental disabilities can find their voice, discover their strengths and live their best lives.”

Learn more about Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health.


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