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Network of adults with developmental disorders launched in Tokyo

People attend an event marking the establishment of a network of groups of adults with developmental disorders, in Tokyo's Shinjuku Ward on July 15, 2019. (Mainichi/Aya Shiota)

TOKYO -- A network of 10 groups of adults with developmental disorders was launched here on July 15 with the aim of making their voices better heard in society, amid a rising number of people diagnosed with such disabilities after facing trouble in workplaces and relationships with others.

The network, called Tokyoto Hattatsu Shogai Tojishakai Net (Network of groups of people with developmental disorders in Tokyo), aims to enhance collaboration among its 10 member groups, all based in the capital.

With the enforcement of the Act on Support for Persons with Developmental Disabilities in 2005, public awareness about developmental disabilities rose, prompting an increasing number of adults to visit doctors to see if they have such disorders.

Developmental disorders include autism spectrum disorder (ASD), which is characterized by difficulties in human relationships and strong obsessions; attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), which features carelessness, hyperactivity and impulsivity; and specific learning disorder (SLD), with which one finds specific areas of study such as reading, writing and calculation extremely difficult.

Among those who are diagnosed with developmental disorders in their adulthood are people who had shown signs of such conditions since childhood, such as not being able to fit in with peers or having difficulty making their unbalanced sensitivities understood by others. Such friction with their surrounding environments leads some to develop depression and other mental disorders.

In a bid to share these experiences and exchange information about medical institutions and employment support for sufferers, a host of groups of people with developmental disabilities have been formed across the country.

The Tokyo-based network launched on July 15 seeks to dispatch information about necessary support measures for adults with developmental disorders through a website due to be launched and petitions to government bodies.

Hitoshi Takiguchi, 69, head of the network, commented, "It is necessary to increase the number of medical institutions that can examine adults with developmental disorders and provide support for their leisure activities and livelihoods, aside from employment support. We would like to send out the voices of people concerned to society."

Junko Yamazaki, head of the Tokyo Support Center for Autism and Pervasive Developmental Disorders in the capital's Setagaya Ward, noted, "It is probably the first time in the country that a network linking groups of people with developmental disorders has been established. The launch of the network marks a step toward directly reflecting the opinions of people involved in policy measures put forth by national and local governments."

Because groups of people with developmental disorders comprise those with such disabilities, there are difficulties in steering those groups due to participants' characteristics, such as having difficulties in relationships with others.

Takiguchi's network plans to conduct staff training on group management methods for both member and non-member groups based in Tokyo.

(Japanese original by Aya Shiota, Integrated Digital News Center)

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