According to the Developmental Disabilities Act, section 102(8), the term "developmental disabilities" means a severe, life-long disability attributable to mental and/or physical impairments, including cerebral palsy, epilepsy, autism or other neurological conditions that present before the age of 22 and are likely to continue indefinitely.
Intellectual disability (also referred to as a cognitive disability or mental retardation) is a common developmental disability. The term is applied when a person has certain limitations in mental functioning and in skills such as communicating, taking care of him or herself, and social behavior. Children with intellectual disability can and do learn new skills, but they develop more slowly than children with average intelligence and adaptive skills.
Degrees of intellectual disability range from mild to profound. A person's level of intellectual disability can be indicated by an intelligence quotient (IQ) test or by the types and amount of support they need.
Beneficial services may include:
- Early intervention
- Special education and related services
Early Identification of Developmental Disabilities: Practical Tools For Professionals [Webinar]
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2013)
Describes programs and materials available from the CDC that can assist child welfare directors and providers with the identification of and referrals for children with developmental disabilities. It focuses on children with fetal alcohol spectrum disorders or autism spectrum disorders and highlights the CDC's Learn the Signs Act Early program.
Where can I find further information?
Advocates for the rights and full participation of all children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
Children With Disabilities
Batshaw, Pellegrino, & Roizen (6th ed.) (2007)
Addresses the impact of disabilities on child development and function.
National Center on Birth Defects and Development Disabilities
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Presents information on promoting healthy living and preventing complications or other health conditions that are secondary to a person's disability.
National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities
Provides information and State resources about disabilities in infants, toddlers, children, and youth. Also see NICHCY's factsheet on intellectual disabilities.
University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities
Georgetown University Center for Child and Human Development
Promotes self-determination, productivity, independence, and inclusion for all individuals with developmental and other disabilities.