Developmental Disabilities And Decision Making

Developmental disability is a phrase used to describe life-long disabilities that attributes mainly to mental and or physical or combination of both mental and physical defects, manifested before the age of 18. A person can be considered a case of such a situation when his or her disabilities affect daily functioning in three or more of the following areas such as capacity for an independent living or learning or self care or receptive or expressive language or economic self sufficiency or even mobility.

This term first appeared in U.S. law in the year1970. Often people who suffer from developmental disabilities also have problem in doing daily activities normally. They find it hard to take decisions on their own and need to be taken care of and are always dependent on someone. They need the care and support and need an external help to keep them moving.

Decision making is a very important part of ones life and unfortunately people suffering from developmental disabilities cannot take decisions on their own. Since their mental growth is not normal they need time to learn things and it takes a lot of patience to make them understand things.

Frequently, people suffering from diseases such as mental retardation, cerebral palsy, and autism spectrum disorder, various genetic and chromosomal disorders such as Down syndrome and Fragile X syndrome, and Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder are often seen to suffer from developmental disabilities. The use of this particular term is similar with the use of the term learning disability in the United Kingdom, and intellectual disability in Australia, Europe, Canada and some other countries. Cognitive disability is also used instead of developmental disabilities in some places.

Developmental disabilities are usually categorized as extreme, profound, moderate or mild, as monitored by the individual's need for supports, which may be life long. There are many social, environmental and physical reasons because of which developmental disabilities occur, though for some a sure shot reason may never be determined.

Common reasons because of which developmental disabilities occur are brain injury or infection before, during or after birth. Often due to damage in the brain disabilities can occur in the baby. Other factors that lead to disabilities are lack of growth or nutritional problems, chromosome or gene abnormalities, premature babies, lack of proper diet and good health care, excess use of drugs during pregnancy and even in take of alcohol and smoking.

Child abuse can also have an adverse effect on the development of a child, especially the socio-emotional development. Even the diagnosis of an autism spectrum disorder can lead to such a problem. Developmental disabilities affect children between 1 and 2% of the total population in many western countries, though many government sources claim that statistics could be flawed or miscalculated.

The worldwide ratio of people suffering from developmental disabilities is considered to be nearly 1.4%. It is twice as common in males as in females, and some researchers have found that the existence of mild developmental disabilities is likely to be more in areas of poverty and deprivation, and amongst people of specific ethnicities.