By Debbie Grooms – Development Director, AEDD
Every March the National Association of Councils on Developmental Disabilities promotes awareness of people with and without disabilities coming together to form strong, diverse and integrated communities. One in 6 children and 1 in 4 adults have some type of developmental disability such as cerebral palsy, autism, muscular dystrophy, Down syndrome, hearing loss, intellectual disabilities, learning disorders or vision impairment.
It is easy to take for granted the freedoms we have: driving, shopping, living independently and managing day-to-day challenges. People with disabilities face barriers that result in an inability to connect and feel part of the community in which they live. Stereotyping, bullying, transportation, education and job opportunities are just a few of the challenges people with disabilities face. The goal of Developmental Disability Awareness Month is to better educate the public and help people with developmental disabilities live normal lives. We can help them achieve their dreams and live as an integral part of the community.
How can we help individually and as a community? Engage and directly speak to people with developmental disabilities at their language level. If you are able, offer an adult with a developmental disability the opportunity to work in a meaningful job in the community. Understand that they want to be heard, make their own decisions and be treated with equally.
For 50 years, AEDD has advocated for people with developmental disabilities – offering programs and services for children and adults throughout Arkansas. We change the lives of those we serve by providing transportation, education opportunities, therapies and meaningful job opportunities through our Jobs 4 You program. We uphold our mission every day to empower individuals with disabilities to improve the quality of their lives.