Spanning prenatal development to age eight, early childhood provides the building blocks for learning and participation throughout an individual’s life. The first one-thousand days of a baby’s life are the most critical to the development of neural pathways that lead to positive outcomes later on. Regardless of the circumstances they are born into, all children require support in order to grow into their full potential and realize their individual strengths.
According to the International Labor Organization, an estimated 386 million of the global working-age population live with disability, and unemployment is up to 80 percent for this group in some countries. For persons with disabilities and for workers who become disabled on the job, access to employment is often hindered by discriminatory practices and attitudes. Many individuals with disability are further burdened with an interrelated set of disadvantages involving education, health and economic class.
Never in history have so many people lived so long. Thanks to leaps in medical science, technology and economic opportunity, this includes individuals who have acquired disability earlier in life as well as the general population aging into disability. Challenges and opportunities abound. How can families and guardians, clinicians and support staff provide the care our diverse elderly communities require?
Realizing optimal health is a goal for us all. The more robust we are, the more we can achieve what we want in life. Yet vulnerable groups, including veterans, indigenous peoples and people with disabilities, generally participate in wellness programs and health screening activities to a lesser extent than the able-bodied population. Too often, the communication of health-promotion messages is inaccessible to disabled persons and other marginalized populations. So too, health promotion providers focus on an individual’s disability while overlooking societal barriers to wellness.
What is the impact of life transitions within the context of overall lifespan development and why are these events so disruptive at times? The traditional life cycle of human beings includes infancy, childhood, adolescence, adulthood and aging, but passage through these straits of change are often downplayed or ignored by those with authority.
Young people with or without disabilities want what all young people want: a chance to learn, work and connect. Today’s youth are the leaders of tomorrow, the ones who will be at the forefront and contributing to the well-being of their communities when today’s leaders have passed on. Yet why are so many of today’s youth on a narrow and marginalized path to their future? Up to one in five youth in the United States experience a mental health challenge each year, and a whopping 70 percent of youth in juvenile justice institutions have some sort of disability.