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How To Become A Developmental Disability Nurse

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What Is A Developmental Disability Nurse

Become a Provider of Developmental Disability Services in Ohio

Known also as a Special Needs nurse, the Developmental Disability nurse works with patients or populations that have developmental disabilities such as Autism Spectrum Disorder, Down Syndrome, Fragile X syndrome, cerebral palsy and many other developmental disorders. Working with patients from newborn to adult, Developmental Disability Nurses are an important point of contact for patients and their families as well as the rest of the interdisciplinary care team.

What Are The Roles & Duties Of A Developmental Disability Nurse

  • Works with parents and caregivers to develop an evidence-based plan for school or work
  • Coordinates various aspects of care
  • Analyze health information and makes recommendations accordingly
  • Manages health screenings at school or in the workplace according to established guidelines.
  • Provides health-related education and advocacy to various stakeholders involved in the patient’s life
  • Develop health-related policies and procedures
  • Manages professional nursing services
  • Records accurate records for the interdisciplinary team
  • Refers patients to other staff or services for a variety of developmental, social, and mentla health support
  • Acts as a liaison between family, educators, external health and advocacy organizations as well as the medical team
  • Researches and recommends modification of educational or workplace programming and roles

Diverse Work Settings Characterize Ddn Specialties

DDNs face challenging work situations and are as subject to the strain of staff shortages as any type of nurse. DDNs are used in school systems, public health, long-term care facilities, mental health facilities, hospitals, and group homes. Online forums often provide a first-person synopsis of current industry pros and cons for novice nurses interested in DD nursing.

Patient care settings such as these typically indicate all types of patients with an amazing assortment of disorders and healthcare needs. Nurses must not only be drawn to this type of nursing, but must be committed to continual education.

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Can Nurses Specialize In Autism

Yes. For example, the University of Arizona College of Nursing offers a Diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder certificate for nurse practitioners. Nurses who specialize in autism can work in schools or for organizations that provide support for people on the autism spectrum. They can also provide care at homes or in residential programs. As awareness and resources for autism grows, nurses who specialize in autism will be in demand.

What Are The Duties Of An Idd Nurse


The duties of an IDD nurse depend largely on where he or she works and the patient he or she is caring for at any given time. According to Johnson & Johnson, some typical responsibilities of intellectual and developmental disability nurses include assisting with eating and other day-to-day functions, teaching patients to move on their own, and helping with language and communication skills.

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Group: 2544 Registered Nurses

provide nursing care to patients in hospitals, aged care and other health care facilities, and in the community.
  • assessing, planning, implementing and evaluating nursing care for patients according to accepted nursing practice and standards
  • working in consultation with other Health Professionals and members of health teams, and coordinating the care of patients
  • providing interventions, treatments and therapies such as medications, and monitoring responses to treatment and care plan
  • promoting health and assisting in preventing ill health by participating in health education and other health promotion activities
  • answering questions and providing information to patients and families about treatment and care
  • supervising and coordinating the work of Enrolled Nurses and other health care workers
Skill Level
Occupations in this unit group have a level of skill commensurate with a bachelor degree or higher qualification. In some instances relevant experience and/or on-the-job training may be required in addition to the formal qualification .Registration or licensing is required.
Occupations in this Group

Becoming A Developmental Disability Nurse

Registered nurses may find success in looking for job postings through hospitals and specialist offices, as well through government and community agencies. While some nurses apply for the role of Developmental Disability Nurse right after graduation and licensure, many wait until they have some nursing experience before applying.

At present, there are no formal internship opportunities for new graduates who apply for the role, though hospitals may have their own procedures in place, or have an agreement with local nursing programs to facilitate intake and training. Internships typically include both a didactic and practical component.

As previously stated, nurses with more experience often find the role of nursing individuals with special needs to be a fulfilling career choice. With some additional training on developmental disabilities, rights of individuals under the Americans with Disabilities Act, Developmental Disabilities Nurses Association and other factors, nurses will be ready for the challenges of the role.

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Educational Requirements To Become A Pediatric Nurse

To become a pediatric nurse, you should have to get the right certifications first. To become an authoritative nurse in your field, you have to earn your certification as a registered nurse. Based on your interest and future job opportunity options, Laboure College helps identify the differences between an RN vs BSN certification course.

This means getting a Bachelors degree from an accredited college or university is your first step. Once you graduate, youll have to take and pass the NCLEX®-RN to start practicing your job as a pediatric nurse. If you have prepared well, you can clear your NCLEX-RN in the very first attempt. Volunteering at a school or child care facility will help you to better adapt to children’s behavior and identifying early symptoms of illness.

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What Does A Learning Disability Nurse Do

Learning disability nurses are qualified medical experts who work with people with a learning disability, supporting their physical and mental health and providing practical support to enable them to live as independently as possible.

They support their patients to live a fulfilling life within their community and enable them to make their own choices.

As a learning disability nurse your work might include helping patients with practical things such as getting dressed, preparing food, and using public transport. Youll make sure your patients have access to the right health services, treatment or therapy, and help them take part in activities and groups.

Learning disability nurses may also help their patients to learn the skills needed to find work. This can make a huge difference to their lives, helping them to lead a more independent and healthy life where they can relate to others on equal terms.

  • GPs
  • What Does A Developmental Disability Nurse Do

    In addition to advocacy, the Developmental Disability nurse will work closely with the interdisciplinary team made up of medical personnel, social workers, support staff members, language therapists and occupational therapists to help patients attain a good quality of life and health, whether they live independently, in a group setting or in an institution. Nurses may also work or volunteer as community advocates and points of contact for families of patients in their childhood years, teens or as adults.

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    Are You A Good Communicator

    Excellent communication skills with the patient, their family, and your colleagues are crucial to being a successful learning disability nurse.

    Youll need to be able to listen to your patients and their families, and to understand their needs, in order to plan the right care and treatment.

    Some people find it difficult to express their feelings, especially when they have communication problems.

    They may withdraw or act negatively when they get confused or feel overwhelmed. As a learning disability nurse, youll need to use your intuitive skills to uncover the underlying reasons behind that behaviour.

    Where Do Developmental Disability Nurses Work

    Steps to Become a Pediatric Nurse

    Developmental Disability nurses work primarily in patient-facing roles, either in the clinic, in the community, with families or possibly in the group home or institutional setting. Some nurses who work with the special needs population do choose to pursue teaching, administration and policy work – however most jobs are patient-focused.

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    Opportunities For New Grads

    On the other hand, novice nursing graduates that are drawn to DD nursing will likely find quite a number of jobs in developmental disability settings. Unfortunately some settings pay much less than others and as mentioned above nurses are in alarming shortage. Shifts may be long and patient load less than ideal. But in many cases this type of work gains new nurses a valuable set of skills and on the job experience that may be parlayed into more lucrative positions later in their careers.

    International Journal Of Developmental Disabilities

    This multidisciplinary academic journal, available six times a year, publishes articles on all aspects of people living with an intellectual disability, including genetic predispositions, learning interventions, challenging behavior, medication, advocacy, and legal issues. The research presented in the IJDD offers practical help for people with intellectual disabilities or those who care for them.

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    Are You A Team Player

    A learning disability nurse works at the centre of a multi-disciplinary team alongside a lot of other qualified medical professionals.

    As well as working closely with patients’ families and carers, youll be at the centre of a team that may include:

  • GPs
  • speech and language therapists
  • healthcare assistants
  • What Qualifies As A Developmental Disability

    Careers in learning disability nursing

    Developmental disabilities refer to a broad range of conditions caused by impairment in physical, learning, language, or behavioral areas which impact daily activities throughout an individual’s lifetime. Examples include autism spectrum disorders, intellectual disability, Down syndrome, and muscular dystrophy. Disabilities that limit muscle control, movement, and mobility often result from brain injuries or conditions such as cerebral palsy.

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    Career Path And Progression

    With further study and experience you could become an advanced nurse practitioner , clinical nurse specialist or nurse consultant. Consultants work directly and independently with patients, carry out research and develop and deliver training.

    You could lead a team of nurses in a residential setting or manage a learning disability unit. You could also move into other management roles, like community matron or director of nursing.

    You could also go on to train as a health visitor.

    Consider The Ddna Certification

    While you don’t need certification to be a developmental disability nurse, it can help show your specialized interest to employers and prove your understanding of the responsibilities of the role. One certification to consider is from the Developmental Disabilities Nursing Association . Requirements to take the exam include being an RN or LPN and two years of experience with developmental disabilities.

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    You Will Have To Take Care Of Yourself

    As a nurse, its common that you will have a tight shift and you will have to work around the clock to care for your patients. Especially pediatric nurses who work with critically ill children. Its also important to maintain your health and mental wellness to avoid compassion fatigue and nursing burnout.

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    Bsn Nursing Developmental Disabilities Nurses Care For The Physically And Mentally Disabled

    Developmental Disability Nurse

    Individuals suffering from Down syndrome, cerebral palsy, autism, and various genetic disorders are often referred to as being developmentally disabled. They often require long-term monitoring and care by nursing professionals who cannot be provided independently through family and friends. BSN nursing graduates who care for patients with developmental disabilities make up the specialty of nursing called developmental disabilities nursing.

    What is Developmental Disabilities Nursing?

    BSN nursing graduates who choose to specialize in developmental disabilities nursing care for patients who develop a severe, life-long condition before the age of 22. Depending on the severity of the developmental disability, patients may need assistance with activities of daily living, require long-term monitoring for heart conditions, and necessitate treatment for associated physical conditions. BSN nursing graduates who care for developmental disability patients may work in long-term care facilities, schools, or home health care.

    Required Education to Become a Developmental Disabilities Nurse

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    How To Become A Disability Nurse

    Disability nurses work with patients who have mental or physical challenges, learning disabilities or developmental disorders. Many of them care for patients with impairments that manifested in childhood, such as Down’s Syndrome, autism or cerebral palsy. They work with patients of all ages, from children just diagnosed with learning disabilities to adults living in group homes.They provide care both on an outpatient basis and for patients living in group homes or other facilities. They also work with patients one-on-one in their homes. To qualify, you’ll need a nursing degree and knowledge of emotional, developmental and physical disabilities.


    Take as many science, health and math courses as you can in high school to prepare for the requirements of a nursing degree. Child development and psychology courses are also helpful because they provide an understanding of the causes of mental impairments, the implications for patients and families, and treatment options and strategies for managing symptoms.





    Now that you’ve completed the necessary training and licensing, seek full-time employment at health care facilities who hire disability nurses. The career services office at your college or university can often guide you during this process. In addition, many health care facilities hold regular job fairs where you can learn about employment opportunities. Target facilities willing to hire recent graduates.



    Salary And Career Options

    The amount of money you make as a developmental disabilities nurse will depend on your level of education. According to reports, LPNs typically make between $34,000 and $44,000 annually while RNs make an average salary of about $55,000. You can make more money by specializing in one area of developmental disabilities, especially in a specific area where there is high demand, such as autism.

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    What Are The Education Requirements For A Developmental Disability Nurse

    Post-graduation from a 2-year college ADN program or with your 4-year BSN degree, nurses must of course become licensed through the NCLEX examination. Nurses must work for two or more years with patients that have developmental or intellectual disabilities prior to becoming eligible for certification through the Developmental Disabilities Nurses Association .

    What Are The Education And Certification Requirements

    Become an Individual or Agency Provider of Developmental Disability Services in Ohio

    Both LPNs and RNs can become certified in developmental disabilities nursing by the Developmental Disabilities Nursing Association , but only registered nurses can earn the title of Certified Developmental Disabilities Nurse .

    In order to become a CDDN, one must first become a registered nurse. This requires completing an accredited program and earning a diploma, associates degree, or bachelors degree in nursing. After this step, one must pass the NCLEX-RN and become licensed as a registered nurse. In order to be eligible, for the DDNAs certification exam, one must have worked at least 4,000 hours in the past 5 years in developmental disabilities nursing. This practice requirement can be met in a variety of other ways specified by the DDNA, including working as a nurse educator or administrator in a developmental disabilities program, but the 4,000 hour requirement is the primary method of qualifying for the certification exam.

    LPNs and LVNs can also become certified in this specialty area if they meet the qualifications listed above for registered nurses. These nurses, after passing the exam, earn the credential LVN/LPN Developmental Disabilities Certified .

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    Find Out More About Becoming A Learning Disability Nurse

    Watch the videos below to find out more:

    The importance of learning disability nursing.

    Careers in learning disability nursing – Find out more about careers in learning disability nursing.

    This is Nursing – Inspirational stories and experiences – Have you ever thought about being a nurse? Hear nurses describe why they decided to specialize in learning disability nursing and what their proudest moments have been. Discover their stories and find out how you can become a learning disability nurse and why this is such a rewarding and fulfilling vocation. Learn what it is like to work with some of the most disadvantaged people in society in a time of government spending cuts to front line services.

    This is nursing – Peter’s story – An emotionally engaging story that highlights the need for learning disability nurses in a time of cuts.

    Who Has A Developmental Disability

    About one per cent of Ontarians have a developmental disability. Some people with a developmental disability were born with Down syndrome. Some were born with fetal alcohol syndrome. Some have autism.

    Others may have had an illness or accident before they turned 18, which limited their intellectual development.

    People with a developmental disability can still participate fully in their communities. They can be great athletes, artists, workers, advocates, neighbours and friends. They’re an important part of the community and contribute to the strength of our diverse province.

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    Earn An Associate Or Bachelor’s Degree

    The first step to becoming a developmental disability nurse is to earn a degree in nursing. While most employers accept an associate degree, a bachelor’s in nursing is more highly sought after and can help your career growth. This degree gives you a good understanding of how to take care of patients and handle certain medical emergencies.

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