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Every child deserves to grow and develop with the support of family and a network that provides them with opportunity to express their unique contribution to their community. For the child with a disability the network that supports them and their family may be critical to support their path of development. Globally, many children with disabilities have limited or no access to the expertise required to support their development; despite a global focus on the importance of early child development, children with disabilities often continues to be left behind.

Professional societies have had an important role in promoting services for children with disabilities and their families – providing an environment for interdisciplinary collaboration, advancing best practices through research and training, and advocating for the service needs of these children and their families. The three Founding Academies of IAACD provide important demonstrations of the power of professional societies to make a difference.

Recognizing the importance of professional societies, and appreciating the global gap in access to this expertise, the three Founding Academies agreed to establish an alliance of developmental disability associations. The hope was that this alliance would combine individual strengths and support the creation of national and regional academies. These in turn would promote the development of professional capacity – being accessible by families and policy makers and sensitive to the cultural, social, geographic and political realities of their country or region.

Our success will be determined by the extent to which families can reach the networks of services that they and their children need to support their pathway of development, no matter the nature of their disability or where they live across the globe.

A message from the first President of IAACD – Hans Forssberg

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