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Cerebral Palsy, National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities    

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What Are Developmental Disabilities?

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Click here to contact the National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities.

 
 

 

 

What are developmental disabilities?

Developmental disabilities are a diverse group of severe chronic conditions that are due to mental and/or physical impairments. People with developmental disabilities have problems with major life activities such as language, mobility, learning, self-help, and independent living. Developmental disabilities begin anytime during development up to 22 years of age and usually last throughout a person’s lifetime.

Developmental disabilities activities at CDC include:

  • Studying how common developmental disabilities are and who is more likely to have them

  • Finding the causes of developmental disabilities and the factors that increase the chance that a person will have one

  • Learning how people with developmental disabilities can improve the quality of their lives.

CDC’s activities focus on:

You can learn more about the following topics loss below:

  • Monitoring developmental disabilities

  • Research about developmental disabilities

  • CDC publications about developmental disabilities

  • Kids' Quests that help children learn about developmental disabilities

  • Resources for people with developmental disabilities and their families

  • Efforts to improve the health of people with developmental disabilities

  • Developmental disabilities activities at other federal agencies

We provide links to other Web pages if you want to learn even more about certain topics. Some of these pages are within the CDC Web site and others are on outside Web sites. CDC has no control over the content on these outside sites.  Links to such sites are included for information only. The views and opinions expressed there are not necessarily those of CDC, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), or the U.S. Public Health Service (PHS).

Reference:

Accardo PJ, Whitman BY. Dictionary of developmental disabilities terminology. Baltimore: Paul H. Brookes Publishing Co.; 1996. p. 87.

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Monitoring developmental disabilities

CDC's Metropolitan Atlanta Developmental Disabilities Surveillance Program (MADDSP) tracks the number of children with autism spectrum disorder, cerebral palsy, hearing loss, mental retardation, and vision impairment in a five-county area in metropolitan Atlanta (Georgia).  [Read more about MADDSP]

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Research about developmental disabilities

CDC has done research studies on developmental disabilities, including:

  • Metropolitan Atlanta Developmental Disabilities Study (MADDS)

  • Infant Development Study (IDS)

  • Follow-Up Study of Children with Developmental Disabilities

[Read more about developmental disabilities research]

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CDC publications about developmental disabilities

Staff members at CDC's National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities (NCBDDD) have written many scientific papers on developmental disabilities. These papers look at such topics as how common these disabilities are and what causes them. You can use the keyword search on the NCBDDD publications Web page to see a list of all papers written since 1990. Choose "developmental disability" in the keyword box on the search page. Also choose your preferences for sorting and graphics.  Then click on the Submit button. The publication list you get will include the complete reference for each paper and, when available, a link to an abstract or the full text of the paper. [Go to NCBDDD publications keyword search page]

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Kids' Quests about developmental disabilities

Kids' Quest logoCDC has created a series of Kids' Quests to get kids to think about people with disabilities and some of the issues related to participation in daily activities, health, and accessibility. The Quests were written for children in grades 4 to 6, but they can be modified by teachers or parents for use with children of other ages and abilities. Each Quest takes kids through a series of steps that encourage them to use the Internet to learn about a disability and the effects it has on a child's life.

The Kids' Quests ask questions such as:

  • Can someone in a wheelchair be an athlete?

  • Can kids who are blind read books?

  • Can a person who can't speak still tell jokes?

  • How do people who are disabled use the bathroom?

[Go to Kids' Quest]

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Efforts to improve the health of people with developmental disabilities

People with disabilities can live healthy lives. There are many federal and federally-funded programs that help people learn to live well with a disability. CDC has put together a list of some of these programs, including links to their Web sites so that you can learn more about them.  [Read about improving health]

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Resources for people with developmental disabilities and their families

CDC does not study education or treatment programs for people with developmental disabilities, nor does it provide direct services to people with developmental disabilities or to their families. However, CDC has put together a list of resources for people affected by developmental disabilities. [Go to the resources list]

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Developmental disabilities activities at other federal agencies

CDC is not the only federal agency that has developmental disability activities. Click on the links below to learn about the activities at other federal programs. Many of these sites have some information in Spanish.

  • Administration on Developmental Disabilities (ADD)
    ADD works to ensure that people with developmental disabilities and their families help decide what services they should get and that they indeed get the support and services they need. Service areas include education, employment, health, child care, housing, protection and advocacy, recreation, transportation, and quality assurance. ADD is part of the Administration for Children and Families.

  • Center for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS)
    CMS has two programs, Medicaid and the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, that can help children and adults with disabilities get health care coverage.

  • DisabilityInfo.gov
    DisabilityInfo.gov has information about disabilities resources in the federal government. Topics include jobs, education, housing, transportation, health, income support, technology, community life, and civil rights.

  • Maternal and Child Health Bureau (MCHB)
    MCHB promotes the health of children and mothers. It has programs in areas such as children with special health care needs, newborn hearing screening, child health and safety, and genetics. MCHB is part of the Health Resources and Services Administration.

  • MEDLINEplus Health Information, National Library of Medicine
    MEDLINEplus, an online service of the National Library of Medicine, links people to information about topics such as autism, cerebral palsy, hearing loss, mental retardation, and vision impairment.

  • National Council on Disability (NCD)
    NCD ensures that people with disabilities have the same opportunities as people who do not have disabilities. It promotes policies and programs that help people with disabilities live on their own, support themselves, and take part in all aspects of society. NCD makes recommendations to the President and Congress on issues that affect Americans with disabilities.

  • National Institutes of Health (NIH)
    Several institutes within NIH conduct and fund research about developmental disabilities.  They also offer information to the public and educational programs for health professionals.

  • National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR)
    NIDRR promotes the participation of all people with disabilities in their communities. It also helps communities provide opportunities and support for people with disabilities. NIDRR focuses on studies related to topics such as jobs, health, assistive technology, and independent living. NIDRR is part of the U.S. Department of Education.

  • Office of Disability Employment
    The Office of Disability Employment works to increase job opportunities for people with disabilities. It promotes access to education, training, assistive technology and other support so that people with disabilities can get and keep jobs. It helps businesses increase the number of work options for people with disabilities. The Office of Disability Employment is part of the U.S. Department of Labor.

  • Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP)
    OSEP works to improve the lives of children and youth with disabilities from birth to age 21 through education and support services. OSEP administers the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA), the federal law that supports special education and related services for children and youth with disabilities. OSEP is part of the U.S. Department of Education.

  • Office on Disability
    The Office on Disability oversees the implementation of federal disability policies and programs. It works to remove barriers facing people with disabilities so they can participate more fully in their communities. It also fosters interactions between the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (of which it is a part), other federal agencies, state agencies, local agencies, and private sector groups.

  • Rehabilitative Services Administration (RSA)
    RSA helps people with disabilities get jobs and live more independently. RSA is part of the U.S. Department of Education.

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This page last updated Thursday, August 05, 2004

 

 


What Are Developmental Disabilities?  |  Monitoring Developmental Disabilities  |  Research  |  Publications  |  Kids' Quest  |  Improving Health  |  Resources  |  Other Federal Activities  |  Contact Us


 

 

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National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities

The National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities (NCBDDD) promotes the health of babies, children, and adults, and enhances the potential for full, productive living.  Our work includes identifying the causes of birth defects and developmental disabilities, helping children to develop and reach their full potential, and promoting health and well-being among people of all ages with disabilities.