Government Study Shows Increase In Developmental Disabilities

arrow A government report shows that the number of children in the United States who have developmental disabilities has been increasing over the past few years. There has not been a specific reason identified that explains this growing number. The implication is that parents really need to get involved with early identification and screening of their children for developmental disabilities.

Studies were based on data that was gathered as a part of some ongoing national surveys. Researches focused on children who were age seventeen or younger. They looked for signs that the children had one, or more, of a range of disabilities. These disabilities included: ADHD, autism spectrum disorders blindness, cerebral palsy, hearing loss, seizures, stuttering or stammering, and other developmental delays. This information was gathered between the year 1997 and the year 2008.

The results showed that the proportion of children who had at least one of these kinds of developmental disabilities had increased over the years that the study focused on. The percentage started at a little less than 13% to more than 15%. This may sound like a small increase, but it represents the addition of around 1.8 million children.

ADHD had a high rate of increase. It started out at 5.7% and increased to 7.6% over the course of the study. Autism had the fastest growth out of all of the developmental disorders the researchers looked at. It started out at 0.2% at the beginning of the study, and rose to 0.7% by the end of it. Hearing loss, on the other hand, dropped by nearly a third.

There is not an exact reason that can be pointed to as the cause of the increase of the number of these types of developmental disabilities over the years. Some feel that since we have become more aware of these types of disorders, more educated about signs of these disorders, and have improved our ability to screen for them, this could influences the cause of the increase. In short, there aren’t more kids with disorders than before, we are simply more aware of them now.

It should be noted that the data in the surveys came from what was reported by parents. It is possible that some parents would be unaware that their child had a certain developmental disorder, or was mistaking one disorder for another. Some parents may have children with multiple developmental disorders, and may not have sorted them all out at the time of the survey. This could, perhaps, indicate the numbers are actually higher than were reported.

Image by Horia Varlan on Flickr