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Overview, Definition, and Statistics
Cognitive disabilities include developmental and intellectual disabilities, Down syndrome, and autism spectrum disorders (Mackelprang and Salsgiver 371). One type of disability may differ significantly from another, but they can be characterized by some similar factors. For instance, difficulty concentrating, learning new information, generalizing and structuring facts, and using language as a way of expressing one’s toughs in both oral and written form define cognitive disabilities and show that these conditions are very critical.
According to the annual report of disability statistics which examines the health of the US citizens, cognitive disabilities can affect people from every age group. While other types of disabilities become much more frequent with age, cognitive conditions do not see a significant increase in this group, rising only from 4 percent of individuals from 5 to 17 years to 9 percent for people from 65 years and over (Kraus 13). Around 25 percent of people with cognitive disabilities were employed in 2016, which shows that this issue affects all groups of people and significantly affects one’s ability to work.
Impact on Health and Risk Factors
It is necessary to note that people with cognitive disabilities often require more help from medical institutions than other patients. The inability of persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities to participate in everyday life limits the reach of health promotion programs, which leads to more health-related issues. Thus, all spheres of one’s well-being can be endangered by the fact that they do not receive enough support and recognition. Furthermore, the oral health of these individuals, among other areas of treatment, may also lack proper attention.
There are many risk factors for people with cognitive disabilities that limit their access to proper healthcare. The ability to afford healthcare services, for instance, often becomes a problem for disabled people with low incomes. Possible physical barriers that are caused by facilities not being equipped to accommodate persons with disabilities often restrict the access to healthcare for these individuals. The problem of inadequacy that may limit the workers’ knowledge about the disabled person may discourage the latter from seeking proper help on time.
Oral Health Prevention and Treatment
Frequent check-ups may help people to become more accustomed to a proper oral care regime. It is vital to make oral health care a comfortable experience for people with cognitive disabilities to ease their anxiety about dental treatment. While not every patient may experience physical challenges, such a possibility should always be taken into account by both a patient and a medical professional. Moreover, the risk of seizure should also be taken into account – the preparedness to deal with this situation may significantly affect one’s well-being. People with cognitive disabilities should be encouraged to practice independent care to raise their confidence and ensure that they perform certain activities on a daily basis. One should not skip teaching the basics of oral health treatment. Finally, it is vital to inform the patients about possible damaging oral habits.
Learn More (Local Resources)
Patients can find more information about cognitive disabilities on the official website of the American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, which answers the most frequent questions (“Frequently Asked Questions”). The AAIDD has a chapter in Virginia. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also has many resources that may help one to learn more. The Department of Social Services of Richmond, Virginia has some helpful phone numbers and information about health insurance and financial aid for persons with disabilities.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Links to Other Websites | Developmental Disabilities.” CDC. 2017, Web.
“Frequently Asked Questions on Intellectual Disability.” AAIDD, Web.
Kraus, Lewis. 2016 Disability Statistics Annual Report. 2017, Web.
Mackelprang, Romel W., and Richard Salsgiver. Disability: A Diversity Model Approach in Human Service Practice. 3rd ed., Oxford University Press, 2016.