- There are over 50 million Americans with disabilities (about 1 in 6)
- Unemployment rate for Americans with Disabilities hovers near 70%.
- Many can and want to work.
- Many myths, misperceptions and stereotypes prevent hiring people with disabilities.
Frequently Asked Questions about Developmental Disability
What is a developmental disability?
Developmental disability is a term that includes disabilities that occur in the developmental years (before age 22). It may be caused by a mental or physical impairment or by a combination of both. Developmental disabilities cannot be cured—they are life-long and chronic. Developmental disabilities include, but are not limited to: mental retardation, cerebral palsy, epilepsy, autism, Down Syndrome, or Prader-Willi Syndrome. It may also include head injury if the injury occurred before age 22 or other learning disabilities that are related to brain dysfunction.
A person with a developmental disability will have substantial functional limitation in two or more of the following six areas of major life activities: self care, receptive and expressive language development and use, learning, self-direction, capacity for independent living or economic self sufficiency and mobility.
A person with mental retardation learns more slowly than others and may have difficulty applying learning. The degree of mental retardation a person has affects how much and how quickly he or she can learn. Most people affected by mental retardation have only mild retardation.
Mental retardation is not the same as mental illness. Mental retardation refers to a person’s capacity to think and reason; mental illness is an emotional disturbance (such as depression, anxiety disorder, etc.). Like anyone else, a person with mental retardation may experience mental illness.
In Missouri, if a child shows a 50% delay in one of the major areas of development (cognitive, physical, communication, social or emotional, or adaptive) he or she is considered to have a developmental delay that may benefit from early intervention services. A child may also be considered to have a developmental delay if he or she is diagnosed with a physical or mental condition associated with developmental disabilities or one that has a high probability of resulting in a developmental delay or disability.
For example, people-first language means you would refer to someone as “a person who has autism” rather than as “an autistic” or “an autistic person.” Because it is a sign of respect for and valuing of people with disabilities and their individual interests, hopes and dreams, we encourage the use of people-first language.