Developmental disabilities affect each person and their
family differently. No matter if the disabilities are physical or mental or
both, there are steps to take to remain healthy and positive in the face of
Experts recommend focusing on what the individual can do—that
is, their abilities—rather than what they are not able to do. This
person-directed approach to care emphasizes the unique abilities of the
individual and has the potential to free them up from some of their feelings of helplessness.
The goal is for the person with developmental disabilities
to establish as much independence as possible, while still remaining safe.
Independence can be as seemingly small as pausing when someone asks about them
directly (in their presence) and seeing if they want to answer for themselves.
Empowering a person living with disabilities to speak for and about themselves
helps with learning the skills to engage with others.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also recommends finding appropriate
milestones to celebrate together as a way to foster growth and empower the
individual living with developmental disabilities.
When someone feels empowered they can continue to grow as a
person by building on their current strengths and abilities, as well as provide
direction for their own care. Each person has unique abilities or gifts to
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