The Arc of California is committed to reducing the incidence of developmental disabilities through education, research, advocacy and the support of families, friends and the community.
PREVENTION is the key Developmental disabilities affect all areas of life. Knowledge of the causes and ways of preventing developmental disabilities is growing enormously. Prevention programs are most effective before conception, during pregnancy, at birth, and during childhood.
Preconception/ Prenatal care FETAL ALCOHOL SPECTRUM DISORDERS GENETIC COUNSELING Neonatal Care LOW BIRTH WEIGHT/ PREMATURE BIRTH NEWBORN SCREENING Childhood Injury Prevention CAR SEAT SAFETY INJURY ENVIRONMENTAL TOXINS SHAKEN BABY SYNDROME VACCINES WATER/SWIMMING POOL SAFETY
POLICY STATEMENT The nation must continue to investigate the causes, reduce the incidence, and limit the consequences of mental retardation and related developmental disabilitiesthrough education, research, advocacy, technical assistance, and support.
ISSUE The knowledge gained in the last 50 years about the causes of mental retardation and related developmental disabilities and the way to prevent these causes is not uniformly used. Sometimes professionals and lay people are not aware of what is possible. They remain ignorant of biomedical advances, preventive healthcare options, and the need to eliminate environmental hazards. Other times, they choose to ignore the knowledge. They do not make prevention a part of ongoing education and professional practice.
POSITION The nation must reduce the incidence and limit the consequences of mental retardation and related developmental disabilities through research, education, technical assistance, advocacy, and support.
Prevention programs must include:
Information and care given before, during, and following birth, including frequent physical/developmental checks and adequate nutrition as well as available and accessible support services and genetic counseling.
Expansion of newborn screening programs that helps to identify conditions that require early intervention.
Mandatory immunizations of children for all preventable contagious diseases.
Programs to reduce the effects of poverty upon children's health and psychological well-being.
Education and advocacy must include:
Support for expanded education of professionals and the public on the risks of exposing the fetus and children to agents that may harm brain development, such as alcohol, drugs, tobacco, environmental contaminants such as lead-based paints, and aspiring use with young children.
Support in conjunction with other groups for expanded programs and education to prevent childhood injuries, including both unintentional (e.g., use of safety seats, seatbelts, bicycle helmets) and intentional (child abuse).
Advocacy for preventing secondary conditions in persons with mental retardation and other developmental disabilities as these relate to issues of health, survival, and quality of life.
Elimination and protection against known environmental contaminants which are known contributors to mental retardation, like lead and mercury.
Enforcement of existing public policy designed to prevent causes of mental retardation.
Prevention activities do not diminish the value of any individual. Our constituents bring value to their families, communities, and nation.
Adopted: Board of Directors, AAMR May 28, 2002
Congress of Delegates, The Arc of the United States November 9, 2002
"People with mental retardation and related developmental disabilities" refers to our constituency, i.e., those defined by the AAMR classification and the DSM IV. In everyday language they are frequently referred to as people with cognitive, intellectual and developmental disabilities although the professional and legal definitions of those terms both include others and exclude some defined by DSM IV.