Thursday, April 12, 2007

What about Developmental Disability/Delay?

Developmental Disability includes Autism, Asperger's, Pervasive Developmental Disorder and other diagnoses. Developmental Delay includes Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, LD, Dyslexia, and more. Then there is GDD and Auditory Processing Disorder, and I don't know where they fit in the official structure of diagnostic categories, but I know they are a developmental problem.

I have been working with children with developmental difficulties for a few years. I use the terms developmental difficulties to encompass everything from Developmental Disability to Developmental Delay, and even more. In our consulting program we consider them all fundamentally the same. They differ only by degrees. We have developed protocols which succeed with all of the developmental difficulties. Our approach assists the client’s inherent proficiency for developing.

What is the magnitude of this problem?

All of these developmental difficulties add up to an estimated 28 million children in America. The Census Bureau tells us there a total of 85 million children in America. The APA (American Pediatric Association) calculates that one in every six children have a diagnosis for some developmental problem (16.7%). The different associations for all of the individual diagnostic categories of developmental difficulties all agree when they tell us that about 50% of the children with these problems obtain a diagnosis for their problem (for a total of 33%). And, 33% of 85 million is 28 million children.

That means that 33% of all the children in every classroom have some degree of developmental problem. Maybe it shows up as a lack of capacity to focus or control impulses. Maybe it shows up as a lack of capacity to learn arithmetic. Maybe it shows up as an inability to kick a ball. Maybe it is so severe, the children never learn to walk. Maybe it is mild and only an inconvenience to the child and the parents.

In whatever form, developmental difficulties seem to be growing in sheer volume. We are certainly getting better with our diagnoses. And, we are certainly advanced as a country so that we offer those testing services to more people who otherwise could not afford it. But, I am not sure this is the reason we have a third of our children with developmental difficulties.

When I was a child in school, many years ago, I do not remember a third of the children having these types of difficulties in my classrooms. I remember that maybe 5% to 10% could have had these kinds of difficulties, but I do not think it amounted to a third.

What is a developmental problem?

Quite simply, it is some blockage in the developmental process. All living things move through a life cycle. Much of the early phases of that life cycle are spent in maturing. From conception to maturity, all living entities progress through a series of stages. For us humans, we call them our developmental stages.
For those with developmental difficulties, they do not progress through their stages appropriately. They get stuck at some of the stages. They skip some stages. So, many of the basic learning processes needed for appropriate maturity, are missed. And, in some cases a child is held in a step and does not pass out of it on to the next developmental step.

In my opinion, all of the different diagnostic categories are related to some simple factors. In which developmental stages did the child get stuck or which stages did the child lose? How intense is the ‘stuckness?’ And, how many stages did the child lose?

What can be done about it?

All of the different diagnostic label associations in the field of developmental difficulties are clearly speaking on one voice when they say that the 1) developmental process is stuck and that 2) there is no cure.

Researchers in this field do not know what to do to fix developmental difficulties. Nothing that they attempt involves the developmental process. For decades clinicians have tried everything they can think of to do and nothing works.
After all these frustrating years, they have finally reached an accord that there is no cure. And, now it is officially agreed. All of the diagnostic associations and all of the committees creating the diagnostic specifications agree that there is no cure. Now, they invest all of their research dollars on finding causes instead of searching for fixes for 28 million children with these developmental difficulties.

They have attempted many things, but they have not attempted everything.
With our method children fill-in the holes in their developmental progress. Our approach assists the client’s inherent proficiency for developing.

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