The US Department of Health and Human Services Administration on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities states that:
“A developmental disability is 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 the age of 22
• Is likely to continue indefinitely
• Results in substantial functional limitations in 3 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, individualized supports, or other forms of assistance that are of lifelong or extended duration and are individually planned and coordinated.
An individual from birth to age 9, 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 above if the individual, without services and supports, has a high probability of meeting those criteria later in life.“ (Developmental Disabilities Assistance and Bill of Rights Act of 2000)
The federal definition is functional; it is intended to describe the nature and scope of limitations without reference to medical diagnosis.
How Many People Have Developmental Disabilities?
The Administration on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities estimates the population prevalence of developmental disabilities at 1.58%.
Approximately 21,000 Mainers of all ages have developmental disabilities.
The overall prevalence of disability among all people in the United States is 12.6%1: among people in Maine it is 16.3%2. Approximately 217,000 Mainers report having a disability.