Intellectual and developmental disabilities include a wide range of disorders. Some, like Down syndrome, begin before the individual is born. Others, like the Autism spectrum, can have their onset later in life.
Disabilities can affect the individual intellectually, physically, or both.
Some examples of other disabilities are Cerebral palsy, ADHD, Fragile X Syndrome, learning disabilities, seizure disorders, Tourette syndrome, traumatic brain injuries, and sensory processing disorders. Intellectual and developmental disabilities can impact:
- Intellectual abilities
- Adaptive living skills
- Social skills
- Interactions with the world
- Performance in school
- Ability to live independently
- Practical skills
- Self-care abilities
- Future career opportunities
Intellectual and developmental disabilities also have a huge impact on the individual’s family.
The family must adapt to and accommodate the needs of their family member with a disability. Depending on the level of support needed by the individual, a member of the family with a disability can impact day-to-day and long-term future planning. Marriages, finances, sibling relationships, relationships with others, and overall household routines can be impacted. The challenges of having a member with a disability can turn into great blessings when families find the right balance and support for all members.
You may be wondering how can Counseling help? Counseling can help both the individual with a disability and rest of the family in the following ways:
- Give the individual a place where they have a voice for their desires
- Help the individual cope with bullying or negative social experiences
- Build social skills and rewarding friendships
- Create independent and adaptive living skills
- Find effective stress management techniques
- Foster deep, positive relationships with siblings
- Work closely with school staff to create effective learning environments and positive educational experiences
- Build parenting skills that fit the need and developmental level of the child
- Decrease acting-out behaviors
- Increase self-esteem
- Help the individual adapt to life stage transitions and changes in his or her environment
- Many other individual needs and concerns
When an effective support system is in place, all family members can find their path to happiness and fulfillment.
Written By: Laura Lebovitz, LAMFT