Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month Lesson Plan

Use this short film program in the classroom as a teacher resource. The lesson plan features heroes who have a developmental disability.

Credit: Eunice Kennedy Shriver (2009) by David Lenz | National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution

Developmental disabilities are a group of conditions due to an impairment in physical, learning, language, or behavior areas, which onset before adulthood. About one in six children in the U.S. have one or more developmental disabilities or other developmental delays.

The films in the lesson plan show us common misunderstandings about disabilities, and how society's attitudes towards disabilities have changed.

We also see how our heroes with developmental disabilities are unique individuals who live an empowered life.

The Big Picture: Rethinking Dyslexia [Trailer]

Produced by:Karen Pritzker
The myths, the stigmas, the truths, of dyslexia revealed.

Minimum Max

Produced by:Joshua Ovalle
A brief and powerful first-hand account from high school student, Max, who must navigate through the world of ADD and all the medications that come along with it.

Super Ruby

By: Dean Saffron
This piece pays homage to the power of positivity generated by Ruby, a young sporting champion who endeavours to lead her best life everday.

Do You See Rainbow?

By: Kitty Richardson
An insight into autism from the perspective of someone with autism.

FAITH’S WORLD | BYkids Trailer

By: Faith Guilbault | BYkids
Faith Guilbault (age 16) has cerebral palsy and invites us to experience living with special needs so we can all treat being differently abled with humanity and normalcy.

The MY HERO Report II - Ablaye

By: Fary Sakho & Cheikh Seck
An engaging look at Ablaye, who embodies determination in the face of adversity.

Global Dance Heroes

Produced by: Teresa Taylor
The mission of The Global Dance Initiative is to spotlight and support heroes from around the globe that use DANCE to Heal, Connect, and Inspire.

Material Bodies

By: Julie Machin, Lucy Pucillino
A visceral and empathetic exploration of people’s relationship with their prosthetic limbs.

Ministry of Surf

By: Keith Reagan
An intimate look inside the healing power of water & surfing on autistic children and the surfers who offer "one perfect day" to kids!


Produced by:Logan Cascia - Music by Trans-Siberian Orchestra
Tommy Carroll Dreams, Believes, and Achieves in this heartwarming, documentary-adapted music video. Music by Trans-Siberian Orchestra

Learn about Developmental Disabilities through Art

Helen Keller by Robert Shetterly, AWTT.org

By: Robert Shetterly

Portrait of Eunice Kennedy Shriver

By: by David Lenz, The National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution

Jim Abbott

By: Kieran from San Francisco

Jim Abbott was born without his right hand and proved that anyone could play the sports they love, even with disabilities.


These hero essays highlight those with developmental disabilities who not only push against odds but also uplift their communities.

Skye Malik

By: Sue Glader
Skye Malik founded the Paco Project to give back. She raised $25,000 for New York students to gain access to Learning Ally, which empowers those with dyslexia.

Nick Vujicic

By: Shannon from San Diego

Nick Vujicic, born with no arms or legs, was not allowed to enter mainstream school due to Australian laws. He became one of the first to do so, later receiving his bachelor’s degree in Accounting and Financial Planning.

Lewis Carroll

By: Emma George

Lewis Carroll, author of the classic Alice in Wonderland, struggled with stuttering throughout his life, as did most of his family.

Vikas Khanna

By: Brenda from New York

Vikas Khanna "was born with misaligned legs and in his teenage years he met with an eye accident which left him partially blind in his left eye...he went on to become one of the most celebrated chefs in the U.S."

Melissa Blake

By: Shannon Luders-Manuel

Melissa Blake is a journalist with Freeman Sheldon Syndrome whose abilities are questioned based on her looks. After her body positivity tweet went viral, she now is leading a movement in self-acceptance called #mybestselfie.

Listen & Read Along Stories with Text and Audio

Paco, My Dyslexic Hero

By: Skye Malik
Paco, My Dyslexic Hero Grandpa Paco shows Skye that she can succeed at anything.

Jessie Christopherson

By: Emily from North Sioux City
Jessie Christopherson helps the physically and mentally challenged accomplish things they never thought possible.

Discussion Questions and Learning Outcome

Discussion Questions

1. What are common misunderstandings about disabilities?

2. How are these heroes alike, and how are they different? 

3. Where do these heroes find their unique strengths? 

4. Has the way society deals with disabilities changed? If so, how? If not, how have they not? 

Learning Outcome

The films , art, and stories all reflect on unique individuals with developmental disabilities and their ability to live an empowered life. Students will feel inspired and empowered to overcome obstacles in their own lives and reach for worthy goals.

Students can share their Hero Essays, Films and Art through our Create Program

How to use MY HERO's Create Program to Publish Stories, Art, Film and Audio for Students

Tutorial for students: Publish written stories, film, original artwork and audio in MY HERO's multimedia library.

Create Program
Credit: MY HERO

MY HERO Calendars for use in the Classroom

MY HERO's Teachers Calendar Features Lesson Plans and Multimedia Resources

Teachers Calendar
Credit: MY HERO

Learn about a New Hero Every Day of the Year: Use the MY HERO Calendar in the Classroom


Laura Nietzer

The Developmental Disabilities Awareness lesson plan was curated by MY HERO Education Outreach Director Laura Nietzer.

Additional Links

Organizer created on 3/2/2019 12:04:45 PM by Xenia Shin

Last edited 4/12/2024 9:08:31 AM by Laura Nietzer