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A developmental disability is a condition that is attributable to mental retardation, cerebral palsy, epilepsy, autism, or disabling conditions found to be closely related to mental retardation or to require treatment similar to that required for mentally retarded individuals. The condition manifests itself before 18 years of age, is expected to continue indefinitely and constitutes a substantial disability.


Autism is a complex developmental disability that typically appears during the first three years of life. The result of a neurological disorder that effects the brain, autism impacts the normal development of the brain in the areas of social interaction and communication skills. Children and adults with autism have difficulties in verbal and non-verbal communication, social interactions, and leisure or play activities (from the Autism Society if America web site page

Cerebral Palsy

Cerebral Palsy is a neurological movement disorder characterized by the lack of muscle control and impairment in the coordination of movements. This disorder usually the result of an injury to the brain during early development in the uterus, at birth, or in the first two years of life. Cerebral Palsy is not progressive. Some characteristics are: awkward or involuntary movements, poor balance, irregular walk, poor motor coordination, and speech disturbances.


According to the Epilepsy Foundation of America, epilepsy is a physical condition that occurs when there is a sudden, brief change in how the brain works. When brain cells are not working properly, a person's consciousness, movement, or actions may be altered for a short time. These physical changes are called epileptic seizures. Epilepsy is therefore sometimes called a seizure disorder.

Mental Retardation

Mental retardation is characterized by less than average intellectual functioning and significant limitations in at least two of the following areas: communication, self care, social skills, use of community resources, self direction, academic skills, capacity for independent living, work, leisure, health and safety. Mental retardation is a condition, not a disease and it is not a mental illness.