Over the years, we have come to realize that certain words can hurt. Names used to describe people with special needs can be used in better ways that are more uplifting and give a better description of the situation.
Old terms such as “retarded”, “crippled”, or “disabled” are now better stated as “mentally” or “physically challenged” or “developmentally delayed.”
Incorrect terms such as “mongoloid” have been replaced by the appropriate diagnosis of “Down’s Syndrome.”
Children with special needs are children first. Never say “handicapped children” or “disabled child.” A child may be “delayed in development” or children may have “physical or mental challenges” but it is best to state that they are children first and have a specific diagnosis second.
Listed below are some of the diagnoses that children attending DLC may be struggling to overcome.
Cerebral Palsy (CP) – A condition caused by damage to the muscle control parts of the brain generally thought to be a result of reduced oxygen to the brain at birth. There are several different kinds of CP that can affect any part of the body.
Microcephaly – Literally means, “small-head.” The brain did not develop properly prior to birth. This results in mental retardation and affects the body in a similar way to CP.
Prematurity – Because the child did not have all the time needed to develop before birth, many delays in development and muscle control may be present. Respiratory problems are common due to incomplete development of the lungs at birth.
Global Developmental Delay/Developmental Delay – General diagnosis used to describe a severely delayed child in one or more areas of development.
Down's Syndrome – A genetic disorder cause by one extra gene. Child will have varying degrees of mental retardation and weak muscles throughout his/her body affecting development.
Fetal Alcohol Syndrome – A condition caused by the birth mother drinking alcohol during the pregnancy. Child will have vision problems, weak muscles, shakiness or tremoring in the muscles and mental retardation.
Grade I, II, III, IV Intraventricular Hemorrhage – You may hear this called an “IVH.” The child had some kind of bleeding in the brain at birth similar to a stroke. Due to the brain damage, the child will have some degree of mental retardation and muscle control problems.
Autism – Form of childhood mental illness that primarily affects communication, behavior, sensory processing and the way the child relates to the world.
Tuberous Sclerosis – A condition that causes benign tumors to grow on the inside of the child’s body.
Hydrocephaly – Literally means, “water-head.” The child’s cerebral-spinal fluid does not flow properly through the channels in the skull called ventricles. This causes the fluid to back up increasing the size of the skull and putting increased pressure on the brain. The child is treated by putting drain tubes called “shunts” in the skull that allows the fluid to drain down into the stomach. May result in developmental delays and brain damage if pressure gets too great before treatment.
Liscencephaly – Common term for this disorder is “smooth-brain.” The brain did not develop the typical curves and folds resulting in mental retardation and developmental delays.
Genetic Syndromes – There are too many of these to name each one. All of them are caused by some defect in the genes themselves. This could mean all or part of the gene is missing, a part or a whole extra gene is added or that one or more of the genes are deformed. The usual result is some degree of mental retardation, physical deformity and developmental delay is present.