Developmental Disability Definition Change – How Does it Affect You?

Question MarkIn August 2013, a vote by the Colorado Board of Human Services changed the definition of developmental disability (DD) and how this definition is used to determine whether a person is eligible for services through Colorado’s system of Community Centered Boards (CCBs).

Under the previous definition, eligibility determination for DD services in Colorado was based exclusively on a person’s IQ. Historically, only individuals with cognitive impairments (an IQ of 70 or below) were eligible. This meant that a large number of people who didn’t meet the restrictive IQ criteria – but were still in desperate need of services—were unable to qualify for needed support. Although this restrictive definition affected people with a variety of diagnoses, autistic individuals were most likely to be excluded from services based on higher IQ scores.

The revised rule expands access to Supported Living and Residential Services for those who may have previously been ineligible.  To qualify under the new rule, four criteria must be met:

  1. There must be evidence of either cognitive or adaptive behavior impairment, and the disability must have manifested prior to age 22. Under the old definition, a person had to demonstrate low IQ and low adaptive behaviors. Now, a person can demonstrate low adaptive scores without low IQ.
  2. The condition must constitute a substantial disability to the affected person. A substantial disability is one that significantly impairs cognitive or adaptive functioning as evidenced by testing. The testing must be current.
  3. The disability must not be solely attributable to physical or sensory impairment or mental illness. A person will not meet the definition of a developmental disability if it can be demonstrated that the impairments are attributable to only a physical or sensory impairment or a mental illness.
  4. The cognitive or adaptive behavior impairment must be attributable to an intellectual disability or related conditions that include cerebral palsy, epilepsy, autism, or other neurological conditions.

Once a person has been determined to have a developmental disability, he or she may be eligible for a variety of programs through the state of Colorado. The potential programs will vary according to the person’s age and level of need. Unfortunately, many of the programs have long waiting lists, and with the expansion of the definition, these waiting lists are likely to grow.

If you’d like to learn more about the DD definition/determination change and what this might mean for you or your family, please join us for a Q&A session with Marsha Unruh from The Resource Exchange on Saturday, 11/2/13.

When: Saturday, 11/2/13 from 1-1:30pm
Where: East Library Community Room (5550 North Union Blvd)

If you’d like to request a developmental disability determination, contact your local Community Centered Board (CCB). The Resource Exchange serves as the designated CCB for Colorado Springs. As a Community Centered Board, TRE is responsible for determining eligibility, providing comprehensive case management, and providing or purchasing services and supports for children and adults with developmental disabilities. TRE’s three-county service area includes El Paso, Park and Teller Counties.