What’s IDD?

Neurodevelopmental disorders are deficiencies in growth and development of the brain or central nervous system.  Included within the category of Neurodevelopmental Disorders in the DSM-5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) are “Intellectual Developmental Disorder” and “Autism Spectrum Disorder.”

The DSM-5 includes in Neurodevelopmental Disorders:


  • Intellectual Disability (Intellectual Developmental Disorder)
  • Communication disorder
  • Attention Deficit Disorder
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder
  • Specific Learning Disorder
  • Motor Disorders
  • Other non-Developmental Disorders


Federal Definition of Developmental Disabilities:

According to the Developmental Disabilities Act Section 102(8), “the term ‘developmental disability’ means a severe, chronic disability of an individual 5 years of age or older that:


  • Is attributable to a mental or physical impairment or combination of mental and physical impairments;
  • Is manifested before the individual attains age 22;
  • Is likely to continue indefinitely;
  • Results in substantial functional limitations in three or more of the following areas of major life activity:
  • Self-care
  • Receptive and expressive language
  • Learning
  • Mobility
  • Self-direction
  • Capacity for independent living; and
  • Economic self-sufficiency.
  • Reflects the individual’s need for a combination and sequence of special, interdisciplinary, or generic services, support, or other assistance that is of lifelong or extended duration and is individually planned and coordinated, except that such term, when applied to infants and young children means individuals from birth to age 5, inclusive, who have substantial developmental delay or specific congenital or acquired conditions with a high probability of resulting in developmental disabilities if services are not provided.


Psychotherapy is an effective treatment for people with disabilities in helping them cope with everyday concerns and longstanding problems.  Therapy works by helping the person look at his/her thoughts, feelings and behaviors in a supportive environment in order to help the person develop better coping skills.  I utilize several best practice approaches including:

  • Positive psychotherapy:  This is a way to treat depression and anxiety by building positive emotions, character strength, and sense of meaning, not just by reducing negative symptoms such as sadness or worry.
  • Positive identity development:  Many people with an IDD have a largely negative sense of identity which is constituted of all the good things the person is not.  Specific therapeutic approaches can help to create a more positive sense of identity.  
  • Positive behavior supports:  Management of problem behavior relies upon identifying reasons for the behavior and looking into different areas of life in terms of understanding the behaviors.  Intervention targets strength based planning and supports around the individual.
  • Skill Building:  Teaching problem-solving techniques, anger management, conflict resolution, stress management, friendship building, assertiveness training, relaxation and calming techniques offers practical methods for acquiring improved emotion regulation and mastery of life skills.
  • Wellness approaches:  Everyday life for a person with IDD involves handling stress and dealing with frustration.  Encouraging a healthy lifestyle and engaging in meaningful activities goes a long way in dealing with daily stress.  


All therapy approaches have been adapted to suit the individual’s level of understanding.  Also, an integrated approach to coordination of care with the mental health team is offered to keep everyone “in the loop and on the same page” regarding the individual’s progress and challenges.  Videos, books, sensory toys, games, visual cues and conversation are utilized to engage clients in their journey of self-discovery…setting their own goals and figuring out their own life.  



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