Module 4: DIAGNOSES

Defining Special Needs

Special needs can be in the area of mental, social, emotional, or physical development. Children's disabilities vary both in form and in degree of severity. They include, but are not limited to, physical disabilities such as cerebral palsy or muscular dystrophy; auditory or visual disabilities; health impairments (asthma, cystic fibrosis, AIDS); developmental disabilities (mental retardation, learning disabilities); emotional disabilities; and speech/language disabilities. 
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Myths vs. Facts

Myth 1:  People with disabilities have lives totally different from that of most other people.
FACT:  People with disabilities go to school, get married, work, have families, do laundry, grocery shop, laugh, cry, pay taxes, get angry, have prejudices, vote, plan and dream like anyone else.
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Intellectual Disability

Intellectual disability is a disability characterized by significant limitations both in intellectual functioning and in adaptive behavior, which covers many everyday social and practical skills. This disability originates before the age of 18. 

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Down Syndrome

Down syndrome is sometimes referred to as Trisomy 21. The various physical and mental abnormalities associated with Down syndrome are caused by a genetic imbalance. Normally, every human cell contains 46 chromosomes. 
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Autism and Autism Spectrum Disorders

Autism is a neurological disorder causing lifelong developmental disabilities that usually appear during the first three years of life. It occurs in approximately 1 out of every 500 individuals (Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 1997).  
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Understanding Youth with Emotional and Behavior Difficulties

Of the estimated 7.5 million children under the age of 18 who have diagnosable psychological disorders, nearly half of these children are severely disabled by their mental health problems (U.S. Select Committee on Children, Youth and Families, 1991). In the State of Maine, 30,000 children and adolescents have mental health problems. 
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Epilepsy/Seizures

Epilepsy refers to a chronic medical condition (sometimes called a seizure disorder) caused by temporary changes to the electrical functioning of the brain. Epilepsy is characterized by sudden seizures, muscle convulsions, and partial or total loss of consciousness.
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Spina Bifida

Spina Bifida is a term used for a variety of conditions in which there is a defect of closure in the bony part of the spinal cord. In fetal growth, the two halves of the spinal cord develop and fuse in the midline. 
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Cerebral Palsy

Cerebral Palsy is a developmental disability resulting from damage to the brain that may occur before, during, or after birth. Cerebral Palsy is characterized by the loss of control over voluntary muscles in the body, and affects such as activities as sitting, standing, grasping, and eating. 
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Fetal Alcohol Syndrome / Fetal Alcohol Effect

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) is a result of the effect of alcohol on the brain and other developing organs of the fetus, which causes the physical and mental abnormalities that, characterize this disorder. 
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Funding for this program provided by the Department of Health and Human Services