Individuals with developmental disabilities have learning disabilities and will need some assistance. These disabilities are usually associated with conditions like Down’s Syndrome, Autism, Cerebral Palsy and Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. People with developmental disabilities might have difficulty communicating, socializing or living independently.

With support, people with developmental disabilities can work as great employees and volunteers! Every case is different and will require different levels of support or accommodation from their employer.

Tips for interaction:

Remember that people with developmental disabilities are individuals first and should be treated that way. You might have to use simple sentences to help them understand specific job duties or tasks and focus on concrete ideas and skills as the individual may have trouble with abstract concepts. Use conversation that is appropriate to their age. Make your instructions clear and concise, break down directions into smaller steps or tasks and demonstrate what they have to do whenever possible.

It’s important to remain patient, persistent and consistent and always try to provide positive feedback. Small words of praise will promote a sense of security. Don’t lower your expectations of your staff member who has a developmental disability, instead give good training and support and be mindful of including them in workplace activities.

Assistive technology:

There are some devices available today that will help enable individuals with developmental disabilities maximize their strengths.

Symbolic Software: This sets the computer screen up as a board displaying a menu of symbols from which the user can select using a mouse, keyboard or alternative pointing device.

Alternative Keyboards: These range from key guards that prevent two keys from being pressed at the same time, to mini keyboards for small ranges of movement and pressure sensitive pads that can be configured for the task at hand.

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