A developmental disability is a life-long condition that emerges before 18 years of age and affects an individual’s ability to learn and function independently.
As a developmental disability affects intellectual and adaptive skills, these individuals are usually substantially below others in their age group in this regard, and often require support in many areas of everyday living.
Developmental disabilities vary greatly from person to person both in terms of level of disability (mild, moderate, severe, profound) and of limitations in the above life skills.
Developmental disabilities and mental illness are distinctly different and separate conditions. However, there are many people diagnosed with a developmental disability who are also diagnosed with a mental illness.
People with a developmental disability can suffer from all the same types of mental health issues as anyone else, including problems such as depression, anxiety or psychotic disorders.
Individuals with a developmental disability and mental health needs are often referred to as individuals with a “dual diagnosis”.
Through a support team of skilled professionals representing various disciplines within the field of Developmental Disabilities, a partnership is developed with the individual receiving services and their caregivers, families, and mediators, to provide support regarding:
- A comprehensive understanding of other behaviours identified, or conditions that prompt or maintain that behaviour
- Strategies to promote desired behaviour change such as skill acquisition or reduction of challenging behaviours
- ‘Hands-on’ training for caregivers and mediators on strategy development
- Monitoring for evaluation of strategies or interventions applied
- Caregiver, family, and mediator training and education regarding disabilities and developmental needs
- A sharing of resources including literature and other learning materials
- Through parent coaching, Behaviour Communication Therapy Services teaches a child with a developmental disability positive behaviours and appropriate skills
- Through consultations with parents, Hands facilitators provide direct therapy through in-home coaching, develop behavioural protocols with parents and/or community team including a functional behaviour assessment
- A Hands facilitator who specializes in developmental disabilities, coordinates programming between home, school and community, provides skills training sessions to small groups of parents, and provides education and prevention in-service on topics related to behaviour