Definition of Developmental Disabilities

Federal Definition of Developmental Disabilities:

The Developmental Disabilities Assistance and Bill of Rights Act of 2000 defines a developmental disability as a severe chronic disability of an individual that:


  • is attributable to a mental or physical impairment or combination of mental and physical impairments.
  • is manifested before the individual attains age 22.
  • is likely to continue indefinitely.
  • results in substantial functional limitations in three or more of the following areas of major life activity: self-care, receptive and expressive language, learning, mobility, self-direction, capacity for independent living, and economic self-sufficiency.
  • reflects the individual’s need for a combination and sequence of special, interdisciplinary, or generic services, supports, or other assistance that are lifelong or extended duration and are individually planned and coordinated.
  • includes infants and young children from birth to age nine who have substantial delay or specific congenital or acquired conditions, and may be considered to have a developmental disability without limitations in meeting three or more of the areas of major life activity with a high probability of resulting in DD later in life if services are not provided.

Approximately 6 million Americans have developmental disabilities. We have approximately 43,300 individuals with developmental disabilities in Mississippi and approximately 482,000 individuals with disabilities. Developmental disabilities can occur in any family, no matter what their ethnic, economic, religious or political background.