Definitions of Developmental Disabilities

Mental Retardation:
According to The American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities:“Mental retardation is a disability characterized by significant limitations both in intellectual functioning and in adaptive behavior as expressed in conceptual, social, and practical adaptive skills. This disability originates before age 18.” Intellectual or developmental disability are currently the preferred terms for the disability historically referred to as mental retardation.

According to The American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities: “A disability refers to personal limitations that represent a substantial disadvantage when attempting to function in society. A disability should be considered within the context of the environment, personal factors, and the need for individualized supports.”

Cerebral Palsy:
According to United Cerebral Palsy: “Cerebral palsy, also referred to as CP, is a term used to describe a group of chronic conditions affecting body movement and muscle coordination that is caused by damage to one or more specific areas of the brain, usually occurring during fetal development; before, during, or shortly after birth; or during infancy. Thus, these disorders are not caused by problems in the muscles or nerves. Instead, faulty development or damage to motor areas in the brain disrupts the brain’s ability to adequately control movement and posture. ‘Cerebral’ refers to the brain and ‘palsy’ to muscle weakness/poor control. Cerebral palsy itself is not progressive; however, secondary conditions, such as muscle spasticity, can develop which may get better over time, get worse, or remain the same. Cerebral palsy is not communicable. It is not a disease and should not be referred to as such. Although cerebral palsy is not ‘curable’ in the accepted sense, training and therapy can help improve function.”

Down Syndrome:
According to the National Down Syndrome Society: “Down syndrome occurs in one out of every 733 live births, and more than 350,000 people in the U.S. have this genetic condition. One of the most frequently occurring chromosomal abnormalities, Down syndrome affects people of all ages, races, and economic levels.”

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome:
According to the National Organization on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome: “Fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) is a set of physical and mental birth defects that results when a mother drinks alcohol during her pregnancy. When a pregnant woman drinks any alcohol, such as beer, wine, or mixed drinks, so does her baby. Alcohol passes through the placenta right into the developing baby. The baby may suffer lifelong damage as a result.”

According to the Epilepsy Foundation: “Epilepsy is a neurological condition that makes people susceptible to seizures. A seizure is a change in sensation, awareness, or behavior brought about by a brief electrical disturbance in the brain.”

According to the Autism Society of America: “Autism is a complex developmental disability that typically appears during the first three years of life and is the result of a neurological disorder that affects the normal functioning of the brain, impacting development in the areas of social interaction and communication skills. Both children and adults with autism typically show difficulties in verbal and non-verbal communication, social interactions, and leisure or play activities. One should keep in mind however, that autism is a spectrum disorder and it affects each individual differently and at varying degrees—this is why early diagnosis is so crucial. By learning signs, a child can begin benefiting from one of the many specialized intervention programs.”


Community Supported Living Arrangements

Developmental Disabilities Administration

Family Support Services

Individualized Education Plan

Individual Support Services

Supplemental Security Income