Ways You Can Support a Loved One During National Development Disabilities Month

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Did you know that it is National Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month? During this month we are reminded of the importance of advocacy, support, and inclusion for individuals with developmental disabilities and their families. This month is dedicated to raising awareness about the diverse abilities and challenges faced by those with developmental disabilities, promoting their rights, and celebrating their contributions to our communities. Let us share key ways you can support a loved one or contribute to the broader community during this important month right here on our blog.

  1. Educate yourself and others. A critical step in supporting the developmental disabilities community is education. Take the time to learn about the various types of developmental disabilities, especially the one your loved one is facing, understand the challenges as well as the potential of those who live with them. Use this knowledge to inform others, correct misconceptions, and advocate for acceptance and understanding. By sharing resources, stories, and information when you are asked, you can make a significant impact.


  1. Participate in local and online events. Look for events organized by local charities, schools, and advocacy groups during Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month. You and, if possible, your loved one can participate and support them. These might include educational workshops, inclusive activities, or virtual campaigns aimed at increasing awareness and support. Joining these events can deepen your understanding and show solidarity with the community as well as help you and your loved one build your own community of support.


  1. Volunteer your time or skills. Offering your time to organizations and programs that support individuals with developmental disabilities like your loved one is a valuable way to contribute. Whether you are helping out at an event, providing ongoing support, or lending your professional skills, your involvement can make a real difference in the lives of many.


  1. Consider advocating for inclusion and rights. Advocacy plays a crucial role in ensuring that individuals with developmental disabilities have the same opportunities as everyone else. This can involve lobbying for policy changes, supporting inclusive education and employment opportunities, and promoting accessibility in all areas of community life. Take the time to learn how to get involved and ask how you can help out.


  1. Donate to supportive organizations and research. If you can, consider making a donation to organizations that work towards bettering the lives of those with developmental disabilities. Your contributions can help fund important research, support services, and advocacy efforts that improve quality of life and promote equality.


  1. Plan for your loved one by creating a Special Needs Trust. If you have a loved one with a developmental disability, you may want to work with your estate planning attorney who specializes in special needs planning to set up a special needs trust. This can be a crucial step in planning for their future. This type of trust ensures that they will have the financial resources they need without jeopardizing their eligibility for government benefits. 


  1. Offer emotional support and friendship. Being there for your loved one, offering emotional support, and fostering an inclusive environment for friendships to flourish are invaluable. Simple acts of kindness, understanding, and inclusion can significantly impact the well-being and happiness of individuals with developmental disabilities.


By engaging in these actions during Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month, and throughout the year, you contribute to building a more inclusive, supportive, and understanding world for individuals with developmental disabilities and their families. It is an opportunity to stand together in promoting respect, rights, and opportunities for all.

We know this article may raise more questions than it answers. The Academy of Florida Elder Law Attorneys (AFELA) is the pre-eminent organization of Florida elder law attorneys providing advocacy, education and action on behalf of seniors and people with disabilities. We encourage you to contact one of our attorneys in your area using our Find a Lawyer website for assistance.