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What do you mean by that?

In various places you will read the words disability, delay, and difference. While disability and delay are needed medical and clinical terms, we will often refer to these children as having differences in development and intelligence, as all children do. We live in a neurodiverse world and want to provide summer camp services that are inclusive of those with challenging differences and specifically focused on their special needs. Likewise, the behaviors of the population we seek to serve can be described as maladaptive, distressed, or challenging, depending upon the intended reader, a medical professional or parent. Since this website is for a multitude of audiences, we will use these terms interchangeably with no intent for offense or inaccuracy. We welcome any feedback.

Developmental Disability

According to the CDC, developmental disabilities are a group of conditions due to an impairment in physical, learning, language, or behavior areas. These conditions begin during the developmental period, may impact day-to-day functioning, and usually last throughout a person’s lifetime. Some of the most common are autism spectrum disorder, attention deficit hyper-activity disorder, cerebral palsy, and other developmental delays.

Developmental Delay

A developmental delay refers to a child who has not gained the developmental skills expected of him or her, compared to others of the same age. Delays may occur in the areas of motor function, speech, and language, cognitive, play, and social skills. Global developmental delay means a young child has significant delays in two or more of these areas of development.

Developmental Difference

Developmental disability and developmental delays are medical and clinical terms. Many parents desire to avoid the potential negative connotations of those words and their impact on the perception of their children. The word difference is often substituted for disability or delay. Additionally, many adults on the autism spectrum have communicated a desire for the manifestations of their autism to be considered differences rather than disabilities.

Intellectual Disability

According to the CDC, intellectual disability is a term used when there are limits to a person’s ability to learn at an expected level and function in daily life. Some of the most commonly known causes of intellectual disability – like Down syndrome, fetal alcohol syndrome, fragile X syndrome, genetic conditions, birth defects, and infections – happen before birth.

Intellectual Difference

Like the use of developmental difference, intellectual difference has become a commonly accepted term in referring to this population with conditions previously referred to as intellectual disabilities.


Individual differences in brain functioning regarded as normal variations within the human population. The concept that differences in brain functioning within the human population are normal and that brain functioning that is not neurotypical should not be stigmatized.

According to Psychology Today (online) Neurodiversity is the idea that variation in brain function exists across the population. Differences such as autism and ADHD have existed throughout human history and are not due to faulty neural circuitry. Rather than viewing them as such, neurodiversity embraces autism as a different way of thinking and behaving.

You may notice the Joyful Friends logo incorporates the accepted symbol for neurodiversity.

Maladaptive Behaviors

Behaviors that stop a person from adapting to new or difficult circumstances. They are used by those with social anxiety to attempt to manage their fear in social situations.

Challenging Behaviors

More than half of kids and teens with autism may be physically aggressive toward caregivers or other kids and grown-ups. This can include:

· hitting, kicking, biting

· being hyperactive, anxious, and worried

· hurting themselves by banging or hitting their heads

· biting their hands and fingers


Successful and/or unsuccessful attempts to leave the designated area without adult supervision and/or permission. Nearly half of children diagnosed with ASD engage in elopement.


Exhibiting one of the following (or similar) behaviors that have the potential to cause harm to another person: Hitting, spitting, kicking, biting, pinching, scratching, pushing, head-butting, and hair pulling. Up to 68% of children diagnosed with ASD engage in aggression.

Property destruction

Any instance of an individual throwing items that are not designed to be thrown with enough force that the object lands at least 3 feet from the student’s body and is not intended to be thrown at another person (aggression). Any instance of purposely breaking an item.

Self-Injurious Behaviors

Intentional, direct injuring of body tissue. To include pinching, hitting, biting, etc. oneself. Nearly 28% of children diagnosed with ASD engage in self-injurious behaviors.

Toileting Issues

Any issues with toileting to include dependent toileting, fecal smearing, rectal digging, etc.

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