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.

Watching these films will inspire and empower students, who will consider how to to overcome obstacles in their own life and reach for worthy goals.


Wendy Milette

The following program of short films, curated by MY HERO International Film Festival director Wendy Milette, feature heroes who have a developmental disability.

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.

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.


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

Some of the issues affecting people with developmental disabilities include:

  • meaningful work
  • language that is respectful to those with disabilities
  • education
  • government funding for disabilities programs

Many organizations understand that supporting individuals with disabilities to live a full life should consider all stages of life, from childhood through adulthood. 

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? 



These films reflect on unique individuals with developmental disabilities and their ability to live an empowered life. Participants will feel inspired and empowered to overcome obstacles in their own lives and reach for worthy goals.

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

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

Additional Links

MY HERO celebrates World Down Syndrome Day with stories, films and art on heroes with Down Syndrome or who are advocates for the rights of those with this condition.

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

Last edited 4/30/2020 2:07:19 PM by Laura Nietzer