Developmental Disabilities

In North Carolina there are 125,000 persons with mental retardation and/or developmental disabilities. In Mecklenburg County there are over 16,000 persons with mental retardation and/or developmental disabilities who are served by approximately 40 agencies.

What is Developmental Disabilities?
Students will learn how to work with Individuals who have a wide range of developmental disabilities, range of skills and needs. The term developmental disability refers to an individual with a mental or physical impairment or a combination of both, who is limited in the ability to function in three or more areas of life such as self-care, receptive and expressive language, learning, mobility, self-direction, independent living and economic self-sufficiency. In order to have a defined developmental disability, the disability must occur during the years of development or before age 22. Diagnostic labels commonly associated with or included in the term of developmental disabilities are: mental retardation, cerebral palsy, epilepsy, learning disabilities, autism, mental illness, and brain injury.

Developmental Disabilities Program
A key component of service provision is identifying the individual needs and supports for persons with disabilities. The Develop-mental Disabilities Program is designed to train students to work with children and adults with physical, mental, and emotional disabilities. Students specialize in the area of developmental disabilities. Students will gain an understanding of the support needs of individuals with developmental disabilities in medical, psychological, social, educational, vocational, and economic terms. Fieldwork and clinical experience in community agencies, which provide comprehensive services to persons with disabilities and their families, will be offered.

Career Opportunities
This is an exciting time to pursue a career working with individuals with developmental disabilities. The past three decades have produced major advances in legislation, education and services for individuals with disabilities. With the support of innovative services: families are raising their children at home rather than in institutions; children previously considered uneducable are attending public schools, and; adults with developmental disabilities are becoming productive members of their communities both at work and home.

Successful graduates should qualify for employment in:

  • Group homes
  • Foster care homes,
  • Respite services
  • Vocational rehabilitation agencies
  • Supported employment programs
  • Sheltered workshops
  • Adult vocational activity programs
  • Early childhood intervention programs
  • Public school classrooms as teacher assistants
  • Community support services
  • Other programs that provide support for individuals with developmental disabilities and mental retardation.