What is a Developmental Disability?

The Developmental Disability Assistance and Bill of Rights Act defines a developmental disability as a severe and chronic disability that: originated at birth or childhood, is expected to continue indefinitely, and substantially restricts the individual's functioning in several major life activities.

The Administrative Rules of South Dakota 27B-1-18 defines a developmental disability as any severe, chronic disability of a person that: 

  • Is attributable to a mental or physical impairment or combination of mental and physical impairments
  • Manifested before the person attains age twenty-two
  • Is likely to continue indefinitely
  • Results in substantial functional limitations in three or more areas of major life activity (e.g. self-care, receptive and expressive language, learning, mobility, self-direction, capacity for independent living, and economic self-sufficiency
  • Reflects the person's need for an array of generic services, met through a system of individualized planning and supports over an extended time, including those of life-long duration

Examples of specific developmental disabilities include: autism, behavior disorders, down syndrome, brain injury, cerebral palsy, fetal alcohol syndrome, intellectual disability, fragile X syndrome.