Developmental Disabilities, Defined

(*Quoted from the 2000 Reauthorization of the Developmental Disabilities Assistance and Bill of Rights Act of 2000 [PL. 106-402])


(A) IN GENERAL-The term “developmental disability” means 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 “the day-to-day activities which enable a person to meet his/her needs for food, drink, cleanliness, favorable appearance, and personal safety;

(II) Receptive and expressive language— the verbal and nonverbal communication that enables the individual to understand others, to be understood, and to exchange information;

(III) Learning—the general cognitive ability to acquire knowledge, insight, and new behaviors and to transfer these experiences to new situations;

(IV) Mobility—the ability to employ fine and gross motor skills for movement, to move from one place to another with or without mechanical aids, and to employ public or private conveyance with assistance, if necessary;

(V) Self-direction-the management and control over one’s own personal, social, financial, and spiritual life; the ability to make decisions favorably affecting self-interest;

(VI) Capacity for independent living—the ability to live without special assistance from others, especially with regard to shelter, normal housekeeping, and related activities; and

(VII) Economic self-sufficiency-the ability to earn funds for the maintenance of a full, independent life in society; 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 lifelong or extended duration and are individually planned and coordinated.

(B) INFANTS AND YOUNG CHILDREN—An individual from birth to age 9, inclusive, who has a substantial developmental delay or specific congenital or acquired condition, may be considered to have a developmental disability without meeting 3 or more of the criteria described in clauses (i) through (v) of subparagraph (A) if the individual, without services and supports, has high probability of meeting those criteria later in life.