Media Portrayals of Individuals With Developmental Disabilities

Developmental disability (DD) is a chronic disability that appears during the developmental period and often continues across the lifespan. DD can affect cognitive abilities (e.g., learning, language), physical abilities (e.g., mobility, behavior), or both cognitive and physical abilities. These difficulties may affect everyday functioning, but may not always be readily visible, apparent, or easily understood. This entry describes the ways in which individuals with DD have been portrayed in the media as well as factors that influence these representations and the role of the media in the public’s understanding of DD.


Mass media is an increasingly popular and efficient way to communicate information to the general public. It comes in many forms, including radio, television, cinema, print and online newspapers, books and magazines, and social ...

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