May 17, 2020

Six most common Developmental Disabilities in U.S. healthcare

4 min
Six most common Developmental Disabilities in U.S. healthcare.jpg
Written by Haleigh In many cases, these increases have stemmed from better identification of developmental issues in children from birth to the age of...

Written by Haleigh


In many cases, these increases have stemmed from better identification of developmental issues in children from birth to the age of 5. Additionally, when Congress reauthorized IDEA in 2004, it expanded the act to include services to developmentally delayed children between the ages of 3 and 9.

Developmental disabilities information by statedemonstrates that different states are more effective than others at diagnosing and intervening when children have developmental disorders. However, nationwide statistics show that U.S. special education teachers most often address six primary disabilities: learning disabilities, ADHD, speech disorders, intellectual disabilities, seizures and autism.

Learning Disabilities

Although other disabilities receive a great deal of national attention, learning disabilities (LD) remain the most common challenge faced by special education teachers. According to the CDC, LD affects 7.66 percent of U.S. students, and the prevalence of learning disabilities has increased by 5.5 percent within the last decade. Kids with LD demonstrate average or above-average intelligence, but they struggle to receive, process, store and communicate information. Four common learning disabilities include:

·         Dyslexia. Students with dyslexia struggle to process language and may demonstrate problems with reading, writing and spelling.

·         Dyscalculia.Dyscalculia is a disability related to math skills, and it affects students' abilities to remember math facts, perform computations and conceptualize both time and money.

·         Dysgraphia.Students with dysgraphia struggle with handwriting, composition and spelling. Their handwriting is often illegible, and they struggle to organize ideas for writing into sentence and paragraph forms.

·         Dyspraxia.Dyspraxia involves difficulties with fine motor skills, coordination and manual dexterity. Kids with dyspraxia may struggle with skills like drawing, buttoning their clothes or cutting with scissors.

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

ADHD affects about 6.69 percent of students, and its prevalence has increased 33 percent over the past decade. The disorder disproportionately affects male students and may be caused by genetics or brain injury. It's also associated with prenatal issues, such as alcohol use during pregnancy or exposure to lead before birth. Most parents and educators notice these signs in kids starting between the ages of 3 and 6:

·         Constant movement and fidgeting.

·         Nonstop talking and difficulty with quiet activities.

·         Impulsivity.

·         Temper outbursts.

·         Difficulty taking turns or playing games that require order.

·         Disorganization and slow information processing.

·         Daydreaming and frequent boredom.

Speech Disorders

Speech disorders, which affect about 1.6 percent of students, fall into three main categories:

·         Disfluency. Students with disfluency repeat sounds, words and phrases. Stuttering is the most common speech disfluency.

·         Articulation disorders.Articulation disorders include mispronunciation of certain sounds, such as substituting an "L" consonant sound with a "W" consonant sound. They may be caused by structural abnormalities related to the mouth and teeth or by damage to the brain's speech centers.

·         Voice disorders.Students with voice disorders may speak in either a raspy or hoarse tone, display sudden changes in voice pitch or run out of air before they can finish a sentence. Problems can result from physiological structural abnormalities, like vocal cord defects, or disorders including gastric reflux.

Intellectual Disabilities

Students with intellectual disabilities have limitations in mental functioning. They often struggle with skills like communication, social skills and self-care. Intellectual disabilities result from genetic abnormalities, health problems or problems related to pregnancy and birth. These disorders affect 0.71 percent of students.


Seizures can cause significant academic impairment. Often, they affect a student's ability to concentrate and to remember facts, particularly when seizures are characterized by periods of fixed staring. Students with seizures often need support from school nurses for seizure management and medication administration.


Although autismaffects only 0.47 percent of students, its prevalence has increased by 289.5 percent over the past 10 years. Students with autism struggle to communicate with others, and they often display repetitive behaviors and restricted interests. They may feel overwhelmed by sensory input, meaning that touch, loud noises and bright lights can cause significant emotional distress. Autism may cluster in families because of specific genetic mutations and how those mutations interact with other biological and environmental factors. However, more research needs to be done to determine both why autism develops and why it's becoming more common.


Classroom image by Old Shoe Woman from Flickr’s Creative Commons


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Jun 13, 2021

How healthcare can safeguard itself against cyberthreats

Jonathan Miles
6 min
Jonathan Miles, Head of Strategic Intelligence and Security Research at Mimecast, tells us how the healthcare sector can protect itself from attacks

One of the most fundamental lessons from the COVID crisis is that health should always be a priority.  In a similar fashion to the human body that frequently fights off viruses and foreign invaders that intend to cause it harm, the sector itself is now a prime target for another type of external threat: cyberattacks.

The figures speak for themselves: between December and January this year, hospitals in the UK were at 89% capacity, with 7,000 fewer available beds than there usually are. As the pandemic increased pressure on hospitals, clinics, and research facilities to create a treatment for patients globally, it has left the sector exposed to hackers who, like a virus, have been targeting it relentlessly and evolving their tactics. 

From patient records being held ransom, to fake emails claiming to originate from the UN WHO, the NHS, or vaccine centres, through to attacks on the cold supply chain to find out the secret formula of the COVID vaccine, the healthcare industry is facing constant cyberattacks and struggling to cope. This threat is unlikely to go away anytime soon – and as such, the industry needs to take a proactive, preventative stance to stay safe in a dynamic digital world. 

Going digital 

The responsive nature of healthcare – particularly of hospitals – means that efficiency is crucial to the industry’s standard operations. To support this, the sector has been embracing technological advancements that can improve the quality of work, enabling staff to meet pressing deadlines, and enhancing patient care. For example, the industry has been digitising records and improving its ways of working through digital means over the past few years. 

This shift is critical to offer high quality patient care; yet, it also means the sector has become more dependent on IT, which can come with a risk if cybersecurity processes employed are deemed as inadequate. 

Without the correct security measures in place, the desired efficiency gains realised, can be easily lost in a heartbeat. Simply put, an elementary glitch in the system can have a tremendous ripple effect on many areas, from accessing patient records and conducting scans, to maintaining physical security and protecting the intellectual property of experimental treatment development.

To prevent this, healthcare organisations need to ensure they’re considering cybersecurity as part of their overall digital transformation strategy – and setting the right foundations to create a culture where safety goes hand in hand with patient care. 

Strengthening defences

Before implementing cybersecurity process, healthcare organisations need to assess the potential risks they face. Depending on how much confidential data the trust has, where it is stored, who has access to it and via which means, the cybersecurity strategy and associated solutions will change. 

It’s fair to say that a medical device start-up where all employees have a corporate-sanctioned laptop and access data via a VPN will have radically different needs to a large hospital with hundreds of frontline workers connecting to the hospital’s Wi-Fi using their personal device. 

These requirements will pale by comparison to a global pharmaceutical giant with offices in multiple locations, a large R&D department researching new treatments for complex diseases and a fully integrated supply chain. Considering the existing setup and what the organisations is looking to achieve with its digital transformation strategy will therefore have an immediate impact on the cybersecurity strategy.

Despite this, there are fundamentals that any organisation should implement: 
Review and test your back-up policy to ensure it is thorough and sufficient – By checking that the organisation’s back-up is running smoothly, IT teams can limit any risks of disruption in the midst of an incident and of losing data permanently.

In our recent State of Email Security report, we found that six out of ten organisations have been victims of ransomware in 2020. As a result, afflicted organisations have lost an average of six days to downtime. One third of organisations even admitted that they failed to get their data back, despite paying the ransom. In the healthcare industry, this could mean losing valuable patient records or data related to new treatments – two areas the sector cannot afford to be cavalier about.

Conduct due diligence across the organisation’s supply chain – Healthcare organisations should review their ways of working with partners, providers and regulatory institutions they work with in order to prevent any weak link in their cybersecurity chain. Without this due diligence, organisations leave themselves exposed to the risks of third party-led incidents. 

Roll out mandatory cybersecurity awareness training - Healthcare organisations shouldn’t neglect the training and awareness of their entire staff – including frontline workers who may not access the corporate network on a regular basis. According to our State of Email Security report, only one fifth of organisations carry out ongoing cyber awareness training.

This suggests it is not widely considered as a fundamental part of most organisations cyber-resilience strategy, despite the fact many employees rely on their organisation’s corporate network to work. By providing systematic training, healthcare organisations can help workers at all levels better understand the current cyberthreats they face, how they could impact their organisation, the role they play in defending the networks, and develop consistent, good cybersecurity hygiene habits to limit the risks of incidents. 
Consider a degree of separation – Information and Operational Technology (IT and OT) networks should be separated.

Although mutually supported and reliance on each other, employees shouldn’t be accessing one via the other. This should be complemented by a considered tried and tested contingency and resiliency plan that allows crucial services to function unabated should there be a compromise. Similarly, admin terminals should not have internet access to afford a degree of hardening and protection for these critical accounts.

As the sector becomes a common target for fraudulent and malicious activity, putting cybersecurity at the core of the organisation’s operations is critical. It will help limit the risks of disruption due to cyberattacks, reduce time spent by the cybersecurity team to resolve easily avoidable errors, and ensure that institutions can deliver patient care, safe in the knowledge that their networks are safe.  

Fighting future threats

With technology continuing to change the face of healthcare, the surface area and vectors available for attacks by malicious actors is constantly increasing. With the introduction of apps, networked monitoring devices, and a need for communication, the attack vector is ever expanding, a trend that needs to be monitored and secured against.

To prevent any damage to patients, staff, or the organisation they are responsible for, healthcare leaders must put security front and centre of their digital transformation strategy. Only then can the sector harness the full benefits of technology. Doing this should include implementing cybersecurity awareness training to challenge misconceptions around security, encourage conversation, and to ensure employee knowledge of the security basics and threats faced. 

This ultimately allows healthcare organisations to do what they do best: provide the highest standard of patient care, safe in the knowledge that their operations, patients, and data are safe.

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