Developmental Disabilities

Grandfather and granddaughter

Developmental disabilities are severe chronic disabilities that can be cognitive or physical or both. The disabilities appear before the age of 22 and are likely to be lifelong. Some developmental disabilities are largely physical issues, such as cerebral palsy or epilepsy. Some individuals may have a condition that includes a physical and intellectual disability, for example Down syndrome or fetal alcohol syndrome.

These conditions are due to impairment in physical, learning, language, or behavior areas. They may also impact day-to-day functioning, and usually last throughout a person’s lifetime.

Most developmental disabilities are thought to be caused by a complex mix of factors, including:

  • Genetics
  • Parental health and behaviors (such as smoking and drinking) during pregnancy
  • Complications during birth
  • Infections the mother might have during pregnancy
  • Exposure of the mother or child to high levels of environmental toxins, such as lead

Developmental Disabilities Administration

The Developmental Disabilities Administration (DDA) is the primary State agency that administers community-based services and supports for individuals with disabilities. DDA aims to create a flexible, person centered, family oriented system of supports so people can have full lives in the community of their choice where they are included, participate, and are active citizens.

DDA’s mission is to help individuals with disabilities do the following:

  • Direct their own lives
  • Seek viable support options
  • Provide information to make decisions in the following essential areas for community living under DDA’s Five Focus Areas:
    • Self- Determination
    • Self-Advocacy
    • Supporting Families
    • Employment First
    • Supported Living

Related Links


For more in-depth assistance, contact your local MAP office directly or call the statewide toll-free number (1-844-627-5465).