Developmental Disabilities Nursing

Everything You Need to Know About Developmental Disabilities Nursing

Developmental disabilities nurses–also called special needs nurses–work with patients who have mental or developmental disabilities like Down’s syndrome, autism, cerebral palsy, epilepsy, Alzheimer’s or other conditions requiring special care and support. Developmental disabilities nurses must have specialized knowledge and clinical skills to deal with the profound impact the disabilities have on the patients and their families. They provide care that focuses not just on the patient’s physical health, but mental health as well, enhancing basic skills, communication, socialization and participation in community life.

Preparation Path

  • GET YOUR LPN, ASN OR BSN
  • PASS YOUR NCLEX AND BECOME AN RN
  • WORK FOR TWO YEARS IN DEVELOPMENTAL DISABILITIES
  • PASS THE DEVELOPMENTAL DISABILITIES CERTIFICATION EXAM

$50,000 - $60,000

Annual Salary Range

Typical Tasks

  • Helping patients perform basic daily tasks, such as eating, dressing, etc.
  • Teaching patients to move on their own and gain increased control over their own bodies
  • Assisting with language and communication skills
  • Building patients’ confidence and morale
  • Educating patients’ families about the effects of the disability and ways to assist the patient

Education Requirements

LPN, ASN or BSN

Employment Settings

  • Mental health facilities
  • Residential facilities
  • Community programs
  • Long-term care facilities
  • Schools
  • Patients’ homes

Certification

RN, plus Developmental Disabilities Certification