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Developmental Disabilities

The Calgary Society for Persons with Disabilities supports several developmental disabilities. Developmental Disabilities are a disability that a person is born with that affects their cognitive skills as well as their motor skills. Developmental disabilities are not disabilities that an individual acquires after birth during their lifetime. CSPD provides support to adults from 18 up and continues to support the aging as well as senior citizens.

What are Developmental Disabilities?


Autism is a highly variable neurodevelopment disorder that first appears during infancy or childhood and generally follows a steady course without remission. Overt Symptoms gradually begin after the age of six months become established by age two or three years and tend to continue through adulthood, although often in a more muted form. It is distinguished not by a single symptom but by a characteristic triad of symptoms: impairments in social interaction; impairments in communication and restricted interested and repetitive behavior. The diagnosis for autism is based on behavior, not cause or mechanism.

People with Autism have social impairments and often lack the intuition about others that many people take for granted. About a third to a half of the individuals with autism do not develop enough natural speech to meet their daily communication needs. In addition, Autistic individuals display many forms of repetitive or restricted behavior.

Cerebral Palsy

Cerebral Palsy is an umbrella term encompassing a group of non-progressive, non- contagious motor conditions that cause physical disability in human development chiefly in the various areas of the body. Cerebral Palsy is caused by damage to the motor control centers of the developing brain and can occur during pregnancy, during childbirth or after birth up to about age three. These results in limits in movement and posture, and can cause activity limitation and are often accompanied by disturbances of sensation, depth perception, and other sight- based perpetual problems, communication ability, and sometimes even cognition. Of the many types of Cerebral Palsy, none of them has a known cure.

Various forms of therapy are available to people living with Cerebral Palsy as well as caregivers and parents caring for someone with this disability. They all can be useful at all stages of this disability and are vital in a person with Cerebral Palsy's ability to function and live more effectively. Moreover, the ability to live independently with Cerebral Palsy varies widely depending on the severity of each case. Some individuals with Cerebral Palsy will require personal assistant services for all activities of daily living. Others can lead semi-independent lives, needing support for certain activities. Still others can live in complete independence.

Chromosome 16 Disorders

In Chromosome 16 disorders, pieces of the chromosome can be mistakenly be duplicated, or may break off and get lost or there can be too many copies of the entire chromosome. There are several disorders associated with Chromosome 16, they are:

  1. Trisomy 16
    Instead of a normal pair, there are three copies of chromosome 16. This disorder is the most common cause for miscarriages as it is incompatible with life.
  2. Trisomy 16 mosaicism
    Sometimes there may be three copies of chromosome 16, but not in all cells of the body. The symptoms include:
    1. (i) Poor growth of the fetus during pregnancy
      (ii) Underdeveloped lungs or respiratory tract problems
      (iii) Muscoloskeletal anomalies
  3. 16p-
    In this disorder, part of the short arm of the chromosome 16 is missing. This disorder is the Rubinstein- Taybi Syndrome. Symptoms of this syndrome include:
    1. (i) Failure to gain weight and grow at the expected rate
      (ii) An increased risk of life-threatening infections
  4. 16+
    The duplication of some or the entire short arm of the chromosome 16 may cause:
    1. (i) Small round skull
      (ii) Prominent upper jaw with smaller lower jaw
      (iii) Thumb anomalies
      (iv) Severe mental impairment
  5. 16q-
    In this disorder, part of the long arm of chromosome 16 is missing. Some individuals with 16q- may have severe growth and developmental disorders and anomalies of the face, head, internal organs and musculoskeletal system.
  6. 16q+
    This disorder is caused by some or all of the long arm of chromosome 16 and it may produce the following symptoms:
    1. (i) Mental impairment
      (ii) Joint anomalies
      (iii) Poor growth
Down Syndrome

Down syndrome is a chromosomal condition caused by the presence of all or part of an extra 21st chromosome. Often Down Syndrome is associated with some impairment of cognitive ability and physical growth. It can result from several different genetic mechanisms.

Sturge - Weber Syndrome

Sturge - Weber Syndrome is a rare congenital neurological and skin disorder and is often associated with port-wine stains of the face, glaucoma, seizures and mental retardation. Sturge-Weber Syndrome is manifested at birth by seizures accompanied by a large port-wine stain birthmark on the forehead and upper eyelid of one side of the face. Moreover, treatment for Sturge-Weber Syndrome is symptomatic. In many cases, anticonvulsant medications may be used to control seizures.

Williams Syndrome

Williams Syndrome is a rare neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by developmental delay coupled with strong language skills and cardiovascular problems. The most common symptoms of Williams Syndrome are mental disability, heart defects and unusual facial features. Most individuals with Williams Syndrome are highly verbal and overly sociable. Individuals with Williams Syndrome also experience many cardiac problems. This disability is caused by the deletion of genetic material.