What is Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month?

Every March, for National Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month (DDAM), the National Association of Councils on Developmental Disabilities (NACDD) picks a special topic to teach everyone about people with developmental disabilities. The theme for 2024 is “A World of Opportunities.” It’s all about celebrating people and teamwork to get rid of barriers. The goal is to create a community in which everyone can thrive; both as individuals and as a community of people with unique skills and talents. 

What are Developmental Disabilities? 

Developmental disabilities are a group of conditions due to an impairment in physical, learning, language, or behavior areas of functioning. About one in six children in the U.S. (or about 17 out of 100) have one or more developmental disabilities or other developmental delays. You have undoubtedly heard of some of the more common disabilities such as Autism, Down Syndrome, Cerebral Palsy. These can change how people learn, talk, process information, develop activities of daily living skills and relate to others. The frequency of developmental disabilities in our community makes it entirely appropriate for everyone to recognize and celebrate the uniqueness and many gifts these individuals offer our communities. 

A World of Opportunities: Celebrating Strengths  

Although people with developmental disabilities may face challenges daily, they also have an equal number of strengths. Their strengths, when recognized and valued, can help create a world of opportunities that benefit all of society. 

A study titled “Character Strengths Across Disabilities” talks about the special qualities that people with disabilities have. Some of these strengths include a love for learning, being honest, enjoying beauty and doing things well, being kind, and treating everyone fairly. These strengths are like the building blocks of who they are, making their lives better and helping them do good things for the world. 

One of the ways we uplift these strengths at Seven Counties Services is through our Supported Employment program called Work Matters. This program covers a variety of employment related supports for individuals with a variety of disabilities including intellectual or other developmental disabilities (IDD), substance use disorders, and/or serious mental illnesses. We customize the services to fit each person’s needs, including assessment and focus on a job that suits the individual, finding the right job, learning new skills, and getting continued support. Learn more about Supported Employment and the Work Matters program. 

Additionally, as part of our Work Matters program, we’ve teamed up with Dare to Care’s Cooking Matters Program to help provide a free opportunity for people with developmental disabilities to learn how to cook and become more independent. The Cooking Matters program is a six-week class in which people learn how to make simple meals while staying safe in the kitchen. After each class, participants receive all the ingredients they need to repeat the recipe at home, including pre-measured spices, meat, veggies, and the recipe. This helps participants learn how to cook in a social setting with expert volunteer chefs while also providing them a hands-on way to practice what they’ve learned after the class. Learn more about the Cooking Matters program 

Support Through Seven Counties Services  

At Seven Counties Services, we believe that everyone with a developmental disability has the right to live as independently as possible in their home and community. We provide a variety of services including case management, crisis prevention and intervention response, outreach and education, supported employment, occupational and speech therapy, specialized assessments, and supports for individuals with IDD who reside in nursing facilities (PASRR). We are the point of entry for individuals in our region with IDD and seek to connect each client and family to resources that support a meaningful life in the community. 

Our Crisis Prevention and Response Program is a 24/7 service, available to assist people with IDD who are experiencing a crisis, as defined by the caller. This program focuses on the person’s needs and offers short-term help when they’re going through a behavioral or environmental crisis. Our goal is to provide support to the person and others in their chain of supports so the person stabilizes from their crisis and is able to remain at home and in their community. If you or someone you know is in crisis and needs support, please call 502-459-5292. Learn more about navigating crisis situations

Seven Counties Services also offers a variety of waiver services to provide support and services for people with diverse needs. These include the Acquired Brain Injury Waiver, Home and Community Based Waiver, Michelle P. Waiver, and Supports for Community Living Waiver. Learn more about waivers and additional services offered 

Thank you for joining us in celebrating National Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month! For more information on how to get started with Seven Counties Services, request an appointment online or call (502) 459-5292. 


Reviewed by Becky Wolf MSW, Vice President of Developmental Services at Seven Counties Services.  

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