National Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month - National Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month may sound obscure for some, but in one word, it's all about inclusion.

National Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month 2025 – March 2025

National Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month (D.D.A.M.), observed throughout March, is a nationwide event to raise awareness about the inclusion of people with developmental disabilities and address the barriers that those with disabilities face. Inclusion is necessary since about 15% of the world’s population lives with a disability. D.D.A.M. is about understanding the relationship between the way people function and how they participate in society and making sure everybody has the same opportunities in every aspect of life to the best of their abilities. Find out why acceptance is a fundamental element of D.D.A.M. and what you can do to support this initiative.

History of National Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month

Back in the 1960s, people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I.D.D.) were regarded as ‘mentally disabled,’ and often relegated to the back rooms of family homes or underfunded state-run institutions open to neglect and abuse.In the early 1960s, President Kennedy leveraged his family’s personal experience with his sister Rosemary’s disability and used the power of the Presidency to bring attention to the needs of people experiencing life with an intellectual and developmental disability (I.D.D.). He convened a Presidential Panel focused on the exclusion from education, employment, and community participation suffered by people with I.D.D.The D.D. Act of 1984 set up much of the system we all experience today. The emphasis on goals for services for people with developmental disabilities is “to achieve their maximum through increased independence, productivity, and integration into the community.” State Developmental Disabilities Councils were implemented in all states and territories. These were intended to provide additional training to individuals, families, and service delivery systems. They were to develop a statewide strategic plan for services over the next five years to build on community needs.In 1987 President Reagan proclaimed March as National Developmental Disability Awareness Month to focus awareness on the potential of citizens with I.D.D. to work, contribute, and enjoy typical lives.In 1990, another landmark year, President Bush signed the Americans with Disabilities Act (D.D.). The act was amended again to move from the goals of independence, integration, and productivity toward interdependence, inclusion, and recognition of individual contributions. Training opportunities were expanded to include professionals, paraprofessionals, family members, and individuals with developmental disabilities and advocate for innovative public policy and community acceptance.The D.D. Act continues to grow to include affirmation of individual dignity, person-centered goals, and multicultural focus inclusive of individual and family participation.

National Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month timeline

Concerned Parents Get Organized

Parents all over the country begin refusing to place their family members with disabilities in institutional care and organize into The Arc or what was known as the Association of Mentally Retarded Citizens.

Free Appropriate Public Education

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act is reauthorized, ensuring that all children with disabilities have access to a “free appropriate public education.”

Where It All Began

President Reagen designates March as National Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month.

Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) Signed

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is signed into law, prohibiting discrimination against people with disabilities in public life.

National Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month FAQs

What does disability awareness mean?

Disability awareness signifies educating society regarding disability and how we as individuals can bring about the necessary change. Learning acceptance is the fundamental approach to having an understanding of disability awareness, which can take place anywhere such as at home, school, workplace, and health institutes.

Why is disability inclusion important?

Disability inclusion means understanding the relationship between the way people function and how they participate in society and making sure everybody has the same opportunities to participate in every aspect of life to the best of their abilities and desires. Companies have greater opportunities than ever before to bring in people with disabilities, as customers and clients, and also as employees and managers.

What are the five developmental disabilities?

There are five types of developmental disabilities which include autism spectrum disorder (A.S.D.), cerebral palsy (C.P.), intellectual disability (I.D.), attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (A.D.H.D.), and learning disabilities.

How to Observe National Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month

  1. Share on social media

    Social media is a great way to connect with your community and raise awareness about developmental disabilities. By posting to your social media channels, you will amplify the voices of people with disabilities. Whether it is about inclusion in the workplace, the school, or the community, share it with your followers to spread awareness

  2. Wear orange

    Orange is a color symbolizing energy and positivity. It’s also the official color of Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month. One of the easiest ways to recognize D.D. Awareness Month is to invite your team to wear orange. So grab your orange attire, and let’s celebrate!

  3. Put a smile on a child’s face

    Let those children with developmental disabilities feel your love and support. Help them reach their dreams and encourage them to unleash their inner potential. One of the most meaningful ways you can do this is by donating to causes for disability awareness and/or supporting events that raise understanding of developmental disabilities.

5 Important Facts About Developmental Disabilities

  1. When does it begin?

    Most developmental disabilities begin before a baby is born, but some can happen after birth because of injury, infection, or other factors.

  2. What causes it?

    Most developmental disabilities are thought to be caused by a complex mix of factors including genetics, parental health and behaviors (such as smoking and drinking) during pregnancy, birth complications, infections, and exposure to high levels of environmental toxins, such as lead during pregnancy.

  3. Over one billion

    About 15% of the world's population live with a disability.

  4. The numbers are increasing substantially

    More and more people are living with disabilities due to demographic change including population aging and the global increase in chronic health conditions.

  5. Inadequate healthcare

    Half of the people with disability cannot afford healthcare, compared to a third of people without disabilities.

Why National Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month is Important

  1. It seeks to stop bullying and stereotypes

    Bullying of students with special needs has become a serious and growing national problem. Some reports indicate that nearly 85% of students with special needs experience bullying. Stereotypes about people with disabilities contribute to the prevailing high unemployment rate among people with disabilities.

  2. It fosters peer relationships

    D.D.A.M. is a time to create strategies and activities that help students better understand the needs and differences of their peers with disabilities. It helps to foster peer relationships and helps students develop empathy that can have positive outcomes for all students.

  3. It educates the community

    It is helpful to educate our community to be aware that developmental disabilities are not always evident. For example, some disabilities are visible — a person who uses a wheelchair or crutches to ambulate. Oher disabilities — cognitive challenges that affect the way a person speaks, learns, or interacts with others are not easily recognized or noticeable.

National Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month dates

Year Date Day
2023 March 1 Wednesday
2024 March 1 Friday
2025 March 1 Saturday
2026 March 1 Sunday
2027 March 1 Monday
World Compliment Day
National Peanut Butter Lover's Day
St. David's Day
National Pig Day
Baby Sleep Day
Self-Injury Awareness Day
National Wedding Planning Day
Share a Smile Day
National Black Women in Jazz and the Arts Day
Independence Movement Day
World Music Therapy Day
National Dadgum That's Good Day
Refired Not Retired Day
Yap Day
World Civil Defense Day
National Fruit Compote Day
National Horse Protection Day
Zero Discrimination Day
International Ideas Month
Asiatic Fleet Memorial Day
Tsagaan Sar
National March First Day
National Texas Stress Day
World Seagrass Day
International Martisor
Public Risk Management Awareness Day
National Sage Day
Endometriosis Awareness Day
National Hotel Slipper Day
National Minnesota Day
Plan a Solo Vacation Day
Peace Corps Day
National Welsh Corgi Day
Earth God's Birthday
Ramadan Begins
Baba Marta
International Women of Color Day
Justin Bieber's Birthday
Kenny Redneck Tv's Birthday
Frederic Chopin's Birthday
Sawyer Sharbino's Birthday
Philza's Birthday
Kesha's Birthday
Ron Howard's Birthday
Wonho's Birthday
Universal Human Beings Week
Hearing Awareness Week
North Dakota Winter Show
National Will Eisner Week
National Write a Letter of Appreciation Week
National Ghostwriters Week
Festival of Owls Week
Iditarod Race
National Aplastic Anemia & MDS Awareness Week
National Invest in Veterans Week
International Women’s Week
Poison Prevention Awareness Month
Irish American Heritage Month
National Caffeine Awareness Month
National Celery Month
National Crafting Month
National Frozen Food Month
National Kidney Month
National Noodle Month
National Nutrition Month
National Peanut Month
National Sauce Month
National Cheerleading Safety Month
National Umbrella Month
National Flour Month
March Madness
Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Month
National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month
National Social Work Month
Brain Injury Awareness Month
Adopt a Rescued Guinea Pig Month
Workplace Eye Wellness Month
Trisomy Awareness Month
National Crochet Month
Bleeding Disorders Awareness Month
National Cerebral Palsy Awareness Month
Dolphin Awareness Month
Red Cross Month
National Color Therapy Month
National Endometriosis Awareness Month
National Reading Month
Colic Awareness Month
Veggie Month
National Athletic Training Month
National Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month
Save Your Vision Awareness Month
National Women's History Month
National Eye Donor Month
Berries and Cherries Month
National Ethics Awareness Month
NZ Book Month
Alport Syndrome Awareness Month
Exotic Winter Fruit & Leeks and Green Onions Month
Listening Awareness Month
Gardening, Nature and Ecology Books Month
Middle Level Education Month
Women’s Month (Philippines)
Marie Curie Great Daffodil Appeal
Vascular Anomalies Awareness Month
Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) Awareness Month
National Deaf History Month
American Red Cross Month
Endometriosis Month
Gender Equality Month
Read an E-Book Month
National Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month
Mad for Plaid Month
Youth Art Month
National Breast Implant Awareness Month
National Bed Month (U.K.)
Colorectal Cancer Education and Awareness Month
Greek American Heritage Month
Birth anniversary of Samaon Sulaiman
Supply Management Month
National Optimism Month
Employee Spirit Month
Humorists are Artists Month
National Essential Tremor Awareness Month
Spiritual Wellness Month
Academy Awards Month
Sing With Your Child Month
National Professional Social Worker's Month
The Great Daffodil Appeal
Honor Society Awareness Month
Small Press Month
Malignant Hyperthermia Awareness and Training Month
Mental Retardation Awareness Month
National Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Awareness Month
International Mirth Month
Play the Recorder Month
National Music in Our Schools Month
National Clean up Your IRS Act Month
National Credit Education Month
Expanding Girls' Horizons in Science and Engineering Month
National March Into Literacy Month