Students studying developmental disabilities learn about the theories of human development in the context of disabilities. They study disability culture and how disabilities are viewed by the larger public.
Disabilities studied include mobility, deaf and hard of hearing, blind and visually impaired, psychiatric and cognitive impairments, and neurological disabilities. As well, students study issues facing an aging population of those with developmental disabilities such as long-term care, arising medical issues, funding, palliative care of the dying, and quality of life. Students examine key issues such as inclusion, integration, empowerment, advocacy, and interdependence.
Ethical issues related to developmental disabilities, such as deinstitutionalization, euthanasia, sterilization, parenting, and punitive measures are examined, as well as current laws and legislations which have been put into place to protect people with developmental disabilities.
Students also study the role of medication in those with developmental disabilities. Students also learn a variety of applied behavioral techniques and practical strategies used to modify behavior.
Students engage in practicum sessions where they apply their classroom learning to actual people with developmental disabilities. This happens under the guidance of a certified therapist, psychologist, social worker, or medical doctor.