Abuse of those with developmental disabilities is a common research theme. This includes studies into overt physical abuse such as withholding food, neglect such as withholding help when required, sexual abuse, constraint practices such as immobilizing wheelchairs, and financial abuse such as withholding wages. Researchers are studying how to detect these types of abuses, how to encourage reporting of such abuses, and to encourage a culture of tolerance and inclusion for those with developmental disabilities.
Other researchers are studying the biological bases of developmental disabilities. They are working with those in psychology and neurology to determine prenatal causes of disabilities (eg. fetal alcohol syndrome), as well as genetic and chromosomal abnormalities that result in disabilities. For example, scientists have found that the risk of conceiving a Down's Syndrome baby increase with maternal age, with women older than 35 having a significant risk.
Research is also ongoing into the development of suitable special education programs for children with developmental disabilities. People are studying current educational systems to determine deficiencies in the current systems, and attempting to develop new methodologies to interact with developmentally-challenged children. This includes techniques such as games, music therapy, psychological counseling, administering shorter assignments, and skipping subjects.