When it comes to those with handicaps, there statistics and there are people who live with the disabilities. Both add to the complex and often lonely tapestry that is being handicapped or a caregiver of a handicapped person in America.
Researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Health Resources and Services Administration recently published a troubling new study in the journal Pediatrics entitled “Trends in the Prevalence of Developmental Disabilities in U.S. Children, 1997–2008.” The subtext is the disturbing part – developmental disabilities are increasing in U.S.
Data from the study showed developmental disabilities are common: about one in six children in the U.S. had a DD in 2006–2008. These data also showed that prevalence of parent-reported DDs has increased 17.1 percent from 1997 to 2008. This study underscores the increasing need for health, education and social services, and more specialized health services for people with DDs.
The prevalence of any DD in 1997–2008 was 13.87 percent. This includes: learning disabilities; attention deficit, hyperactivity disorder; developmental delays; and autism.
“This increase indicates a serious health problem,” the CDC notes. “Future research should focus on understanding risk factors, changes in acceptance and awareness of conditions, and benefits of early intervention services.”
This makes people with disabilities the second largest minority group in the United States. Over 18 million people in the U.S. and Canada have mobility issues.
You don’t need to tell any of this to Jill and John Lane. Their son Trenton has lissencephaly, a crippling neurological disorder. Nine-year-old Trenton is confined to a wheelchair and is forced to rely on his parents and those around him to do just about everything for him. “People don’t realize how much there is to this,” Jill said.
Numbers are meaningless to families like the Lanes.
What holds meaning is public acceptance of the disabled, an erasure of the stigma attached. “People with disabilities are just common people,” Jill said.
What Jill and people like her want is there to be more awareness of disabilities. She is taking her son’s unfortunate plight and making it a clarion call.
Trenton was in the library at Eisenhower Elementary School last week and fellow third graders read to him. This was a good sign. Like any minority or other group shunned by society, the youth must be the ones to lead the way.
We all must be more tolerent and understanding of those with disabilities, whatever they might be. There is nothing to fear.