What is a Developmental Disability?

Intellectual Disability, Cerebral Palsy, Epilepsy, and Autism


The term “Developmental Disabilities” applies to a whole group of conditions that may cause physical, learning, language, or behavioral impairment. According to the CDC, about one in six children in the United States have “one or more developmental disabilities or other developmental delays.” These conditions begin before the age of 18, have an impact on daily life, and generally last throughout a person’s life.

Alta California Regional Center assists individuals with specific developmental disabilities and their families in accessing appropriate services so that every individual can live up to their highest potential. 

Intellectual Disability

Intellectual Disability is one of several developmental disabilities meaning that there is evidence of the disability during the developmental period of a person’s life. In California this period of development is defined as occurring before the age of 18.

Characterized by below-average intellectual function, intellectual disabilities impact a person’s day-to-day functioning and last throughout a person’s lifetime. Children with intellectual disabilities may fail to reach developmental milestones in their communications, behavior, play, movement, or learning which will prompt a parent or physician to ask for a comprehensive evaluation.

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Cerebral Palsy

Cerebral palsy (CP)is a non-progressive pathologic lesion in the developing infant or child’s brain causing permanent motor and/or sensory impairment. (American Academy of Pediatrics)

Cerebral palsy is the most common motor disability in childhood, and affects a person’s mobility, posture, and balance.

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People with epilepsy experience recurrent seizures which are not attributed to any other cause such as low blood sugar, high fever, or concussion. A single seizure, or a few episodes of seizures with a high fever that do not occur when the fever abates is not epilepsy so not everyone who has seizures has epilepsy.

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Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) or Autism is a brain-based disorder that affects a person’s social interaction, communication and causes other behavioral patterns that interfere with daily functioning.

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