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Developmental Disabilities

A developmental disability is a cognitive and/or physical impairment that begins before an individual reaches adulthood. Developmental disabilities include autism, cerebral palsy, epilepsy, intellectual disability and other conditions similar to intellectual disability. Individuals with developmental disabilities often face challenges and limitations with major life activities such as language, communication, mobility, learning, socialization, self-help and capacity for independent living. Developmental disabilities can result in a spectrum of lifelong impairments ranging from mild to profound.

In a ten year period, the number of individuals with developmental disabilities served by the State of California increased an alarming 56%. Among this population, the number of individuals with autism increased 321%, intellectual disability 37%, cerebral palsy 24% and epilepsy 27%. Currently, the State of California serves over 240,000 individuals with developmental disabilities. Approximately 17% of children under age 18 in the United States have a developmental disability.

Lifetime costs associated with having a developmental disability can reach up to $5 million due to costly services such as special education, extra medical care, supportive care and therapeutic care. Many individuals have more than one type of developmental disability, each likely to result in a variety of challenges requiring different types of care and services.

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