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Common Developmental Disabilities

A developmental disability is a severe, chronic disability that is manifested before age 22 and is likely to continue indefinitely. Listed here are some common types of developmental disabilities and organizations where additional information on each one may be obtained.

Note: The inclusion of a website on this list should not be considered an endorsement of it by the Belmont County Board of Developmental Disabilities.

“Autism is a bio-neurological developmental disability that generally appears before the age of 3. Autism impacts the normal development of the brain in the areas of social interaction, communication skills, and cognitive function. Individuals with autism typically have difficulties in verbal and non-verbal communication, social interactions, and leisure or play activities.” (Source: National Autism Association)

National Autism Association 

Autism Society of America (ASA) 

Autism Speaks 

First Signs 

Asperger Syndrome Education Network (ASPEN) 

Cerebral Palsy is a “ term used to describe a chronic condition affecting body and/or limb movement and the control of muscle tone and coordination. It is caused by damage to one or more specific areas of the brain during periods of brain development; there is usually no damage to the sensory or motor nerves controlling the muscles. The brain damage is not progressive; however, the characteristics of disabilities resulting from brain damage often change over time.” (Source: United Cerebral Palsy)

United Cerebral Palsy

Cerebral Palsy and Special Needs Children's Organization 

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 



American Diabetes Association 

Diabetes Public Health Resource

National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse 

Down Syndrome (trisomy 21) is a chromosomal disorder caused by the presence of an extra 21st chromosome. It is characterized by a combination of major and minor differences in structure. It is often associated with some impairment of cognitive ability and physical growth, as well as facial appearance.

National Down Syndrome Society 

Epilepsy is a brain disorder that causes people to have recurring seizures.

Epilepsy Foundation



Nat’l Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke 

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) is a pattern of mental and physical defects which develops in some unborn babies when the mother drinks alcohol during pregnancy.

National Organization on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome 

Family Resource Institute 

Centers for Disease Control & Prevention

“Fragile X Syndrome (FXS), the most common cause of inherited mental impairment. This impairment can range from learning disabilities to more severe cognitive or intellectual disabilities. FXS is the most common known cause of autism or "autistic-like" behaviors. Symptoms also can include characteristic physical and behavioral features and delays in speech and language development.” (Source: National Fragile X Foundation)

National Fragile X Foundation  

“Intellectual disability is a disability characterized by significant limitations both in intellectual functioning and in adaptive behavior as expressed in conceptual, social, and practical adaptive skills.” (Source: AAIDD)

“The term intellectual disability covers the same population of individuals who were diagnosed previously with mental retardation in number, kind, level, type, and duration of the disability and the need of people with this disability for individualized services and supports. Furthermore, every individual who is or was eligible for a diagnosis of mental retardation is eligible for a diagnosis of intellectual disability.” (Source: AAIDD)

American Association of Intellectual & DD 


The Council for Exceptional Children 

A traumatic brain injury (TBI) is caused by a blow or jolt to the head or a penetrating head injury that disrupts the function of the brain.

National Institutes of Health

Centers for Disease Control

Brain Injury Association of America 


National Institutes of Health – Shaken Baby Syndrome 

Prader-Willi syndrome (PWS) is the most common known genetic cause of life-threatening obesity in children. Prader-Willi Syndrome (PWS) is an uncommon genetic disorder. It causes poor muscle tone, low levels of sex hormones and a constant feeling of hunger. The part of the brain that controls feelings of fullness or hunger does not work properly in people with PWS. They overeat, leading to obesity.

Babies with PWS are usually floppy, with poor muscle tone, and have trouble sucking. Later, other signs appear. These include

Short stature 
Poor motor skills 
Weight gain 
Underdeveloped sex organs 
Mild intellectual disabilities and learning disabilities

Prader-Willi Syndrome Association (USA) 


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