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What is a Developmental Disability?

They fit into a very diverse group of severe chronic conditions due to mental and/or physical impairments. Kids that have developmental disabilities usually have problems with major life activities such as language, mobility, and learning, independent living and self help. They are usually birth defects related to a problem with how that body part or how the system works, also known as functional birth defects. Many affect multiple body parts or system, where as some developmental disabilities only affect one part of the body or system.

Different Types of developmental disabilities can include but not limited to:

ASPERGERS SYNDROME is a type of Autism however, there are many symptoms of Aspergers but the most prevailing is severe trouble with social situations, obsessions, odd speech patterns, other atypical characteristics. You child may have mild to severe symptoms ad there are not two children alike with the same symptoms of Aspergers. Kids with Aspergers have few facial expressions and have difficulty reading the body language of others. They may engage in obsessive routines and display an unusual sensitivity to sensory stimuli, for example they may be disturbed by a light that no one else notices; they may cover their ears to block out sounds in the environment; or they may prefer to wear clothing made of only certain materials.

Other characteristics of Aspergers include motor delays, clumsiness, limited interest and unusual obsessions. Like most of the other disorders there is no cure for Aspergers Syndrome, however with treatment the symptoms can before less severe and decline over time. Early intervention is extremely helpful not only by helping your child how to deal with the symptoms but also for decreasing the symptoms.

It’s very important to point that that unlike kids with Autism those with Asperger’s might not show any delays in language development; they usually have good grammatical skills and an advanced vocabulary at a very early age. However, they typically show signs of a language disorder and might have trouble using the language in a social situation. Often times there are not obvious delays in cognitive development or self-help skills such as dress and feeding themselves, although they can exhibit problems with attention span and organization. They usually reveal that they have average or above-average intelligence.

Aspergers can reveal patterns of behaviors and problems that differ widely from child to child; therefore there is not a “typical” or prescribed treatment regimen. However, the child may benefit from some of the following forms of treatment.

  • Sensory Integration – this is usually preformed by an occupational therapist- your child is desensitized to stimuli to which they are overly sensitive.

  • Language/Speech Therapy

  • Social Skills Training

  • Psychotherapy or behavioral/cognitive therapy

  • Parent education and training

With that in mind there are a ton of other resources out there and again not a “one-size-fits-all” treatment plan. Our highly trained and knowledgeable team of therapists will develop a treatment plan based on each individual child.

AUDITORY PROCESSING DISORDER (APD) also known as (Central) Auditory Processing Disorder (CAPD) is a listening disorder. It affects the way the brain processes auditory information. What it is not, is a hearing impairment, children with this disorder usually have normal hearing ability, however they struggle to process the information that they hear in the same way others do. It leads to difficulties in putting together sounds to convert them into speech.

The cause of APD is unknown. Children with APD usually have another underlying condition as well, such as, dyslexia, ADD, ADHD, PDD, Autism Spectrum Disorder, speech or developmental delays, just to name a few.

Symptoms and characteristics of APD:

  • Trouble paying attention

  • Trouble remembering information presented verbally to them

  • Problems carrying out multi-step directions or instructions

  • They need more time to process information

  • They “appear” (which is usually not the case) to have poor listening skills and need you to speak slowly

  • Prefer written communication

  • Dislike a lot of background noises because it distracts them

Most children with APD tend to be quiet and shy, even withdrawn from mainstream conversations because of their lack of understanding and processing the information.

Treatment for APD includes therapy based on the child’s needs. Therapy will focus on improving listening skills and developing strategies that the child can use to become successful in learning and in the community. Usually therapy will include a speech therapist, an audiologist, a teacher and the child’s pediatrician; all of them play an important role in a child with APD. Things such as computer programs, assistive listening devices and changes in the environment are used to improve the processing skills.


AUTISM is an impairment of the growth and development of the central nervous system, which in turn affects learning ability, emotion and memory. Autism affects information processing in the brain by altering how nerve cells and their synapses join and categorize. 

3 types of Autism recognized in the autism spectrum (ASDs) the other 2 are Asperger syndrome(lacks delays in cognitive development and language and Pervasive developmental disorder- Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS) This one is diagnosed when the full set of criteria for autism or Asperger syndrome are not met.

Autism is believed to have a strong genetic basis, although the genetics of autism are complex and unclear as to whether ASD is explained more by rare mutations or by rare combinations or common genetic variants. Parents will usually notice signs in the first two years of their child’s life. Some will develop signs gradually, but some children will develop normally then regress.


Possible Indicators of Autism Spectrum Disorders:

Does not babble, point, or make meaningful gestures by 1 year of age
Does not speak one word by 16 months
Does not combine two words by 2 years
Does not respond to name
Loses language or social skills
Some Other Indicators
Poor eye contact
Doesn’t seem to know how to play with toys
Excessively lines up toys or other objects
Is attached to one particular toy or object
Doesn’t smile
At times seems to be hearing impaired
Social Symptoms

From the start, typically developing infants are social beings. Early in life, they gaze at people, turn toward voices, grasp a finger, and even smile.  Although there is no known cure for autism there is also not a “one-size-fits-all” treatment plan either. The life-expectancy is normal for a child with autism.


Treatment options may include:

  • Speech/Language Therapy

  • Occupational Therapy

  • Sensory Integration Therapy

  • Cranio-sacral Therapy

  • Music/Sound Therapy

  • Play Therapy


Please keep in mind this is not a complete list of therapies that we use for autism, just a common list. Your child will be evaluated by one of our highly trained professionals and from that evaluation a treatment plan will be implemented.

CEREBRAL PALSY  someone who has trouble controlling the muscles in the body. Naturally the brain tells the body what to do and when to do it, but because CP affects the brain. A child might not be able to interpret those signals and have trouble controlling the muscles of the body. The word cerebral means having to do with the brain, palsy means a weakness or problem in the way a person moves or positions their body.

There are three types of CP

  • Spastic- This is the most common and a child with spastic CP can’t relax their muscles and may appear stiff. This occurs to be about 80% of CP patients have this type.

  • Ataxic- This type is usually caused by damage the cerebellum, which is the base of the brain. The cerebellum is the control center for balance and coordination. This one is the least common.

  • Athetoid- This type of CP affects the child’s ability to control the muscles; they may flutter or move suddenly, this type of CP causes balance and coordination issues.


No matter what type of CP your child has there is treatment, however there is no cure and as with other disorders there is not a treatment plan that will be the same for different children. Our highly professional trained staff will evaluate your child and work with you to develop a treatment plan that will benefit your child based on his weakness and strengths. There is severe and mild CP, while some children have severe case and others have mild, the level of therapy involved will improve their overall well-being.


Types of therapy that may be used are:

Physical Therapy- The therapist will work on gross motor skills, helping the child discover better ways to move and balance. They may also help a child with CP learn to stand alone, go up and down stairs safely, use a wheelchair, learn to walk. Physical therapy works best when started right after diagnosis (of course you can see results anytime). The therapist will use exercises that work toward the prevention of musculoskeletal problems, as well as helping them perform every day activities.


Speech Therapy – This type of therapy will help your child have better control over the mouth and jaw muscles, which in turn can improve speech, eating issues and language skills. They also help develop creative communication methods for those who cannot speak, such as talking, using a communication aid or sign language. Those children that already talk may work with a speech therapist to develop clearer speech, learn new words and meaning, speaking in complete sentences, improve listening skills, and building on language skills.


Occupational Therapy- This type of therapy is vitally important in treating CP. An OT will work on improving the fine-motor skills and hone in on the small muscles of the body, feet, toes, face, hands, and fingers. They can also focus on daily living tasks, such as dressing, eating and everyday mobility. They will also advise you on special equipment needed for the child, special spoons or cups for feeding, toys that will focus and help the development of motor skills, devices that will help improve the child’s mobility and posture.


Sensory Integration Therapy- This particular therapy will help the child achieve their optimal level of functioning. It helps them overcome problems experienced in absorbing and processing information. Encouraging these abilities will improve balance and steady movements. It can also assist with teaching a child to learn a sequence of movements.


Of course there is other treatment available as well, medical, medication, surgery but we focus on the therapy side of the disorders.


DOWN SYNDROME, also known as DS, Downs or Trisomy 21 – it is a condition that effects the way a child develops mentally and physically. It occurs in approximately 1 in 700 live births. Children with Downs have 47 chromosomes instead of the usual 46. This is the most frequent chromosomal disorder affecting children; it is not related to race, religion, nationality or socioeconomic status. Children with Downs are more like other children then they are different. The effects of Downs can vary widely from child to child.


What causes it?

At the time of conception, the baby inherits the genetic information from the parents in the form of 46 chromosomes, 23 from the mother and 23 from the father, somewhere in there a child receives an extra chromosome 21 for a total of 47 chromosomes. It is this extra chromosome that causes the physical and developmental delays associated with Down syndrome. Although, there is no way to prevent the chromosomal error, It is an error that occurred during the time of conception and there is nothing that the mother or father did to cause this and there is no way to prevent it.


How is it diagnosed?

It can be diagnosed in utero or after the child is born, with in the first few days/weeks of the child’s life.  Doctors will perform screen tests of a pregnant mother to see if they are at risk. Those tests might include but are not limited to:

  • Triple or quadruple screen test – this is a combination of three tests that measure the quantities of various substances in the blood and is usually preformed between 15-20 weeks of gestation. Triple screen marks three markers where quadruple screen marks one additional marker and is more accurate.

  • Nuchal translucency – this is preformed between 11-14 weeks of gestation, it uses an ultrasound the measure the clear space in the folds of the tissue behind the baby’s neck, the area behind the neck accumulate fluid in babies with DS.

  • Sonograms– Also known as ultrasounds –these are usually preformed in conjunction with other tests and screenings; they can show physical traits that help in calculating the risks of Down syndrome.  These are preformed between 18-20 weeks they also check the fetus for abnormalities and physical traits associated with Down Syndrome.

  • Integrated screen – this test uses the results from the first trimester screening tests and the blood tests with the second trimester quad screen to come up with the most accurate results.

  • Remember these are just “screening tests” and do not accurately confirm or deny the diagnosis of Down syndrome.

  • Diagnostic tests might include but are not limited to the following:

  • Amniocentesis – this is performed between 15-20 weeks gestation. This involves a needle inserted through the abdomen for the removal of a small amount of fluid. The cells collected from this test can then be analyzed for the presence of chromosomal abnormalities. However, this does carry a risk of complications (however, small) such as preterm labor or miscarriage.

  • Chronic Villus Sampling– (CVS) this is conducted between 8-12 weeks – this involves taking a tiny sample of the placenta either through the cervix or a needle inserted in the abdomen. One advantage of this test is it can be performed in the first trimester; the disadvantage of this test is that it carries a slightly greater risk of miscarriage then an amniocentesis.

  • Percutaneous Umbilical Blood Sampling (PUBS) – This is performed after 20 weeks of gestation, it involves retrieving a sample of blood from the umbilical cord via a needle inserted through the abdomen. It carries the same risk associated with an amniocentesis.

After the baby is born, if the doctor suspects that the baby may have Down syndrome, a Karyotype can be performed (a blood or tissue sample stain)  is taken to show the chromosomes grouped by number, size, and shape and can verify the diagnosis.


Now what? After Diagnosis


Kids with Down syndrome tend to share certain physical features such as a flat facial profile, an upward slant to their eyes, smaller ears and a protruding tongue. Lowe muscle tone (hypotonia) is also a characteristic of a child with Downs, babies in particular may seem especially “limp” . This often does improve over time; most children usually reach their developmental milestones later than other kids. Kids with Downs seem to grow at a slower rate and remain smaller than their peers.

Down syndrome affects kids and their ability to learn in different ways, most have mild to moderate intellectual impairment. Kids with Downs can and do learn, they are capable of developing skills, they just simply reach those goals at a different pace than others, which is why it is important not to compare a child with Downs against a typical developing sibling or child with Downs as well. They have a wide range of talents and there is no way to tell at birth what they will be capable of as they grow up.

However, there are some medical problems with Downs, while some kids have no significant health issues, other may experience a host of medical issues that require extra care. Almost half of children born with Down syndrome with have some sort of congenital heart defect, kids with Downs are at a risk of developing pulmonary hypertension. Approximately half of all kids with Downs will have issues with hearing and vision. Hearing loss can be related to fluid buildup in the inner ear or to a structural problem of the ear itself. Vision problems commonly include lazy-eye (amblyopia) near or far sightedness, a n increased risk of cataracts Regular evaluations by and audiologist or ophthalmologist are necessary to detect and correct any problems before they affect language and learning skills.

Other medical conditions may arise, and occur more frequently in kids with Downs include but are not limited to:

  • Thyroid problems

  • Intestinal abnormalities

  • Seizure disorders

  • Respiratory problems

  • Obesity

  • Immune deficiency

  • Upper neck abnormalities

Thankfully, many of these conditions are treatable.  If your child has Down syndrome, you may at first feel overwhelmed by feelings of guilt and fear. Experts recommend enrolling kids with Down syndrome into early intervention programs as soon as possible. Physical, occupational and speech therapists and early intervention educators can work with your child to encourage and accelerate development.


If your child was diagnosed with Down syndrome, we at Kidswork Therapy center can help. We are highly trained with an accredited staff of in house, speech and occupational therapists. We have state of the art building and equipment to assist in all your child’s developmental needs.


Dyslexia is a learning disability that some kids have. It makes it tough for them to read, spell and comprehend. The issue is inside the brain but that does not mean the person is dumb, many very talented and famous people have struggled with dyslexia all their lives. So a child with dyslexia can learn to read, write and spell with some help and a lot of hard work. A child with dyslexia struggles to read and it makes the brain tired really fast. 

Dyslexia means that the brain has trouble processing letters and sounds. It makes it tough to break simple words into the different speech sounds, for example b-a-g for bag. When it is hard to break them down it is really hard to connect the speech sounds to different letters, like “buh” for b, and blend them into words.

A child with dyslexia might read slowly, make a lot of mistakes, and mix up letters in a word, such as was for saw. Words may blend together for them as well. There isn’t a therapy that will work every time for dyslexic children each child again, is different; therefore after diagnosis a treatment plan is built focusing on your child’s strengths and weaknesses. One strong approach to dyslexia is Sensory Integration therapy, there seems to be a lot of buzz and success that this particular therapy does work for a dyslexic child. Sensory integration Therapy is administered by a trained occupational therapist.


SENSORY PROCESSING DISORDER, also known as SPD for short or SI(Sensory Integration) is a neurological disorder that causes complications with processing information from one or more of the five senses (sight, sound, touch, taste, or smell). For those with this SPD, the sensory information is received but is processed by the brain in an unusual was that may cause distress or confusion. Whenever you are doing something, eating, walking, riding a bike, or reading a book your successful completion of the task requires processing sensation or “sensory integration”. What seems like a simple task to some and we just do it, for a person with SPD it is a struggle, their sensory signals do not get organized into the appropriate responses. A person with SPD finds it difficult to complete simple daily tasks because they are unable to acts upon the signals received through the senses. Some of us have difficulty processing information at one time or another but for those with SPD these difficulties are chronic and disrupt everyday life.

As stated earlier SPD can affect one sense or a combination of more than one sense, it can be just touch for example or include touch and sound. However, sadly this disorder is often overlooked because physicians are not trained to recognize sensory issues.

The parent’s million dollar question…… Did I do something to cause this? Short and simple answer is no. Now, let me explain that. The exact cause of SPD is unknown as of right now, some studies show it could be heredity, while others say environmental factors play a role in SPD. As with other neurological disorder and behavior disorders, research suggests it is likely to be a combination of environmental and genetics.


So now how is it treated?


Once a child has been properly diagnosed with SPD, occupational therapy with a sensory integration approach is used. We have a therapist on staff that is SIPT certified. Our treatment plan is varied and addressed to each individual needs of the child. We work on supporting what the child already knows about the way their system processes. This is a complex disorder and as stated with our disorders there is not a “one-size-fits-all” plan. We may incorporate occupational therapy, along with sounds and a sensory approach therapy into a treatment plan.

A sensory-rich environment is important for successful treatment, at Kidswork, our center is very spacious and offers a variety of equipment used in focusing on movement and we have a number of tactile, visual and auditory opportunities. The most important thing is, not just a good therapist with the right tools, but also making it enjoyable, engaging and motivating for the child so they can progress. The child may swing, go through tunnels and obstacle courses, or even work on practical skills such as writing. While it sounds like play to you, the activities are designs to integrate your child’s senses to normal functioning.



Listed above are some of the most commonly diagnosed disorders.  We treat a wide array and may not have all disabilities included here.  If there is a disease, disorder or disability you would like to know more about, please let us know.



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