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Raising awareness. Providing resources. Advocating for change.

Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month

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We celebrate the accomplishments and contributions of people with developmental disabilities every day, and even more so during Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month. Whether you are connected to someone with a developmental disability or not,  it is important for everyone to take a second and think about the many accomplishments of people with developmental disabilities.

Unfortunately, many people are unaware of some of the biases and attitudes our society holds. One important part of raising awareness for people with DD is to challenge our own belief systems. Therefore, attempt to reflect on your past experiences when interacting with someone living with a developmental disability: were you welcoming and inviting? Did you treat them as an adult? Were there any assumptions you made?

Individuals with developmental disabilities are making meaningful contributions to society every single day. According to the ARC, only 33% of people with DD are in competitive employment. Though Heart is not an employment agency, we see meaningful activities as key to living a full life. Life is not just about getting by and being healthy and safe. It’s about having quality, meaningful activities and relationships. Can you imagine your life if you worked just 10-20 hours per week, then had no other activities that were meaningful to you? If, as an adult, you had a “bed time” because the people who help you go to bed have a shift that ends at 8pm?

People with developmental disabilities face judgment and attitudinal barriers that keep them from having meaningful employment, relationships, and quality of life. But it’s time that people without disabilities recognize the vast contributions of people with DD, reflect on their own assumptions about what people with DD are or are not capable of, and make an effort to be more inclusive. Here are just a few ways that people with DD are positively affecting our communities:

Kayla McKeon, D.C. Lobbyist with Down Syndrome

Andrew and Madie, a couple showing what love really means

Keep the Change, starring actors on the Autism Spectrum