Understanding Childhood Disabilities

Parenting Image Gallery Believing that there may be something wrong with your child is frightening, but let your doctor make the determination before you jump to any conclusions. See more parenting pictures.
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You may have noted with concern that your child didn't roll over or babble or smile when everyone else's children seemed to -- and you wonder if your child has a developmental problem. This article will address those concerns and provide guidelines for raising children who have a disability in the following sections.

  • Causes and Assessment of Disabilities in Children Believing that there may be something wrong with your child is frightening, but let your doctor make the determination before you jump to any conclusions. In this section, you'll read about the common causes of childhood developmental delays, which may be inherited, congenital, or environmental. Although behavioral problems don't occur until a child is older, you may observe certain indications that your child is developing slower than expected. This page includes signs to look for and the next steps to take, like talking to your child's doctor and possibly a developmentalist. You'll read about what to expect from an assessment, plus advice on responding to possible outcomes.
  • Speech Problems and Deafness in Children The development of verbal communication is a milestone in a child's growth process. On this page, we discuss the problems that can delay speech, including environment, hearing, intelligence, muscle control, physical deformation and malfunction of the speech center in the brain. There are guidelines on how to deal with stuttering, how to detect problems and when to consult a doctor. You'll also find information on impaired hearing: common causes for hearing loss and behaviors that may indicate a problem. And we provide some helpful tips on preventing hearing problems for your child.
  • Stimulating Development in a Disabled Child Children with disabilities are capable of learning and developing new skills, just as any other child is. This section deals with stimulating a child's senses to promote growth. The parents' role in the child's development is crucial, and you'll find suggestions on providing a nurturing environment, fostering independence and dealing with setbacks or slow progress. On this page, there are also specific suggestions for stimulating children with a multitude of different disabilities. A number of valuable resources available to disabled children and their parents are also listed.
  • Special Programs for a Disabled Child There are many options available to disabled children for both recreation and day care. Choosing a program for your disabled child can be overwhelming, so we've outlined a list of criteria to help you find the right one. There's special emphasis on your relationship with the professionals who monitor and implement the speical programs -- to keep you comfortable and in control of your child's care.
  • Education for a Disabled Child There are many schools of thought for educating a disabled child. Some experts believe disabled children learn better when they are in classrooms with children at a comparable learning level. Other educators feel a disabled child should be integrated into a regular classroom. We will examine both strategies. Included in this section is a discussion of your child's educational rights (according to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act of 1993) and the potential risks and benefits of mainstreaming your child.

If you'd like to learn about raising a disabled child, begin reading the first section on the causes and diagnoses of disabilites.