Developmental Disability Definition

The Federal Definition of Developmental Disabilities

The current definition under the DD Act[9] (adopted in 2000) defines “developmental disability” as a severe, chronic disability of an individual that:

  • “(i) is attributable to a mental or physical impairment or combination of mental and physical impairments;
  • (ii) is manifested before the individual attains age 22;
  • (iii) is likely to continue indefinitely;
  • (iv) results in substantial functional limitations in 3 or more of the following areas of major life activity:
    • (I) Self-care.
    • (II) Receptive and expressive language.
    • (III) Learning.
    • (IV) Mobility.
    • (V) Self-direction.
    • (VI) Capacity for independent living.
    • (VII) Economic self-sufficiency; and
  • (v) reflects the individual’s need for a combination and sequence of special, interdisciplinary, or generic services, individualized supports, or other forms of assistance that are of lifelong or extended duration and are individually planned and coordinated.”
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