Developmental Disability (DD)


People diagnosed with a developmental disability have intellectual and everyday living skills substantially below their age and often require support in many aspects of everyday life. Specifically, criteria for a developmental disability are defined as follows:

  • the person must have general intellectual ability (IQ) in the sub-average range, also known as the range of Mental Retardation.
  • there must be impairments in the ability to manage the activities of daily living such as personal care (e.g., banking, shopping), or workplace activities (e.g., able to follow instructions)
  • this impairment must have occurred before the age of 18 years.

Developmental Disabilities can include diagnosis such as: Down Syndrome, Fragile X Syndrome, Autistic Spectrum Disorder, Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, Cerebral Palsy etc.

There are different levels of Developmental Disabilities:

  • Borderline
  • Mild
  • Moderate
  • Severe
  • Profound

When working with people with Developmental Disabilities:

  • Teach skills that are age & socially appropriate, with expectation that is realistic to the individual’s level of functioning.
  • Abstract reasoning is usually difficult, use objects in the environment to teach new skills.
  • Communication deficits may be present.  You may have to change the way you talk to be understood.
  • Verbal behaviour is not the only way of communication. Inappropriate behaviour may be a result of lack of comprehension or inability to perform the required task.
  • Treat the individual as you would like others to treat you.

If you have concerns about your child’s development, you can contact:

  • Your family physician / Pediatrician
  • Public health nurse
  • Community health centre
  • Teacher/counselor/principal of your school
  • Developmental clinics in your local hospital
  • Surrey Place Centre (City of Toronto)
  • Kinark  Child & Family Services (York Region)