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Mental Retardation Awareness Month – March 2023

Mental Retardation Awareness Month is observed during the month of March every year. This awareness holiday has been renamed National Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month. The name change was instituted after it became clear that the word ‘retardation’ had hurtful connotations and was used negatively against people with developmental disabilities. National Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month was started in an attempt to spread awareness about the multiple chronic conditions that cause delays and difficulties in key life areas such as communication, mobility, and learning. The month is also meant to help create job opportunities for individuals with developmental disabilities so they can live fulfilling lives.

History of Mental Retardation Awareness Month

Mental Retardation Awareness Month is observed in March every year. It has been observed throughout the country since 1979. This month aims to recognize the struggles of people with developmental disabilities, spread awareness about the various chronic conditions associated with them, and provide opportunities for people with these disabilities.

Along with the name of the month being changed to exclude the word ‘retardation’, the name of the agency that deals with the concerns of people with these disabilities were also changed to show more sensitivity towards those suffering from the condition. Developmental disabilities are chronic conditions that arise from physical and mental issues which typically develop during childhood. These include motor disorders that affect the way people move, learning disabilities like dyslexia and dyscalculia, autism spectrum disorders, and cerebral palsy among others.

When developmental disorders affect all areas of development in children, the situation is referred to as a Global Developmental Delay. People with these disorders tend to be more vulnerable to exploitation and abuse, and as a result, they develop several psychological disorders as a trauma response. This month aims to raise awareness about the many ways in which people with these disorders may be suffering, and how they can be empowered. The month also aims to encourage the general public to understand people with developmental disorders, including those who express their emotions through challenging and aggressive behaviors.

Mental Retardation Awareness Month timeline

1800s
The Institutional Care is Developed

Care and housing for people with developmental disabilities in the 19th Century is based on the asylum model where people were housed in institutions owned by the government or the church.

1952
Civitans Adopts the Cause

The community service organization Civitans adopts service towards people with developmental disabilities as a major emphasis of the organization.

1980
The CRIPA Law is Passed

The Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act (CRIPA) is passed to prevent the segregation of people with developmental disabilities and protect the rights of people in institutions.

1990s
Institutions are Replaced with Community Services

The majority of states in the country commit to de-institutionalization, especially after movements for self-advocacy and against the abuses committed in these institutions.

Mental Retardation Awareness Month FAQs

What is the most common developmental disability?

Autism spectrum disorders, cerebral palsy, and Down syndrome are the most common developmental disabilities.

What are the four ranges of developmental disabilities

The nervous system, sensory, metabolic, and degenerative disorders are the four ranges of developmental disabilities.

Is ADHD a developmental disorder?

Yes ADHD is a developmental disorder.

How to Observe Mental Retardation Awareness Month

  1. Volunteer with an organization

    There are a lot of community-based organizations that work for people with developmental disabilities. Find one that works in your local community and volunteer with them.

  2. Be aware of your language

    Harmful words impact people negatively. Whether intentionally or not, there are words that we often use that hurt people with developmental disabilities, so try to be aware of the impact of your choice of words.

  3. Educate your community

    Work with your community leaders to develop pamphlets and reading material about how to support people with developmental disorders. It’s a great way to get the whole community together to support its disabled members.

5 Intriguing Facts About Developmental Disabilities

  1. The causes are unknown

    Because the cases are so varied, the reasons why developmental disabilities develop are still unclear, although genetics may play a role in some instances.

  2. They are more common in men

    Developmental disabilities are twice as common in men than in women.

  3. The life expectancy is low

    In many cases, the life expectancy of people with disabilities is less than 20 years, although this is improving.

  4. They can cause PTSD

    Living with developmental disabilities leaves people open to abuse and difficult life experiences, which can result in PTSD.

  5. Qualifies people for SSI

    Individuals with developmental disabilities usually qualify for social security benefits like SSI, which is Supplemental Security Income.

Why Mental Retardation Awareness Month is Important

  1. We want to help

    We feel for people with developmental disabilities and want to support them in any way that we can. This month is an opportunity to learn more and help out.

  2. We empathize with people suffering

    Regrettably, people with developmental disabilities should also have to deal with stigma and abuse. We sympathize with them and want to be part of the change.

  3. We want to encourage self-advocacy

    We think that people with developmental disabilities should be given the tools needed to function in society. We believe in creating a sense of community by supporting people in getting their needs met.

Mental Retardation Awareness Month dates

YearDateDay
2023March 1Wednesday
2024March 1Friday
2025March 1Saturday
2026March 1Sunday
2027March 1Monday
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