CDC: One in Six U.S. Children Have Developmental Disabilities

According to a study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published online today in the journal Pediatrics, one out of every six U.S. children has been diagnosed with a developmental disability. For the purpose of this study, developmental disabilities have been defined as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder; intellectual disability; cerebral palsy; autism; seizures; stuttering or stammering; moderate to profound hearing loss; blindness; learning disorders; and/or other developmental delays. Here’s a link to the study abstract. Here’s a link to a well-written article discussing some possible causes for the increased rates of developmental disabilities reported in the study.

The following quote was attributed to the study’s lead author, Coleen Boyle, Director of the U.S. National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities:

“Children are our future, and many of these children can grow up to be very productive citizens, so we need to invest in programs to help facilitate their development.”

If this is true of society at large, how much more true should it be of the church? While churches don’t necessarily need to create “programs” to address the spiritual growth of kids with developmental disabilities, the church certainly needs to devote time and energy to acquiring the resources to lend support to parents of kids with developmental disabilities as they function in their role as primary faith trainers of their children.

About Dr. G

Dr. Stephen Grcevich serves as President and Founder of Key Ministry, a non-profit organization providing free training, consultation, resources and support to help churches serve families of children with disabilities. Dr. Grcevich is a graduate of Northeastern Ohio Medical University (NEOMED), trained in General Psychiatry at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation and in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at University Hospitals of Cleveland/Case Western Reserve University. He is a faculty member in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at two medical schools, leads a group practice in suburban Cleveland (Family Center by the Falls), and continues to be involved in research evaluating the safety and effectiveness of medications prescribed to children for ADHD, anxiety and depression. He is a past recipient of the Exemplary Psychiatrist Award from the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). Dr. Grcevich was recently recognized by Sharecare as one of the top ten online influencers in children’s mental health. His blog for Key Ministry, was ranked fourth among the top 100 children's ministry blogs in 2015 by Ministry to Children.
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8 Responses to CDC: One in Six U.S. Children Have Developmental Disabilities

  1. Ha! You stole my thunder, Steve! I saw this article prior to your post and thought, The church had better get with the program if these stats ring true! How heartbreaking for the church at large that there is much of an un-served or under-served population in their midst. And how motivating for us in the special needs ministry arena! We need to get the word out on these statistics to wake up pastors and seminaries on a continual basis.


  2. Heather says:

    It is sad to see so many kids/parents not able to go to church because of the childs special needs. My daughter has many sensory issues along with Autism and it has been a very big struggle for us to go to church because of that. I had sent numerous infomation about our church starting a special needs ministry to our pastor. Nothing came of it. Sad… There are many parents out there wanting to go to church but know because of their childs special needs, whatever they may be, is not able too.


  3. drgrcevich says:

    Heather…where do you live? Maybe there are churches in your area we’ve worked with, or churches that have received support in launching inclusive ministries from other fine ministry organizations? Our crew at Key Ministry is always willing to offer free training, support and consultation if you find a church in your area willing to support your family.


  4. drgrcevich says:

    Excellent post from our friend Shannon Dingle on this very topic:


  5. Wow, this article blows me away. It is my passion in life now, as my family was not served by a ministry until my son was 17 years old. But after that time, my family learned that life was liveable and now all of us are serving the Lord. What a difference the church can make in the life of a family with a member with disabilities. Thanks for the great article; I hope more catch the vision.


    • drgrcevich says:

      Hi Joyce,

      Sorry it’s taken so long to catch up. Where are you at and how has God used your family’s experience to prepare you for serving others?


  6. Pingback: Hidden In Our Midst? « snappinministries

  7. Pingback: Hidden in Our Midst « Special Needs Ministry

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