Florida's Voice

What is a Developmental Disability?

The core of FVDD and what we do is defined in our mission "to be an advocate for dignity and choice for persons with developmental disabilities."

To better convert these beliefs into action, it is important to understand the legal designation of developmental disability. Florida recognizes seven disabilities.  These developmental disabilities are considered "a disorder or syndrome. . . that manifests before the age of 18; and that constitutes a substantial handicap that can reasonably be expected to continue indefinitely."   It is important to understand these disabilities so that an individual with a disability or those caring for such individuals can understand the rights and support which they are legally able to receive.  Although we have provided definitions; to further understand each specific disability, please click on the name of the developmental disability below.

Spina Bifida: a condition in which the spine and the cord inside the spine do not grow as most spines do. Normally, the spinal cord carries messages from the brain to other parts of the body, but when a person has spina bifida, the spinal cord does not carry all of the messages to the rest of the body.

Autism: a condition characterized by impairment in social interactions and communication abilities and unusual or restricted ranges of play and interest.  Autism results in social isolation and varying degrees of unusual behaviors.

Cerebral Palsy (CP): a group of motor disabilities that arise due to injury to the developing brain before or during birth or during the first year of life.  These motor disabilities do not get worse over time. Cerebral palsy keeps the brain from telling the rest of the body some of the things it is supposed to do.  Despite significant motor impairment, many people with CP have normal intelligence.

"Down syndrome" means a disorder caused by the presence of an extra chromosome 21.

Intellectual Disability: a significant limitation in functioning related to sub-average intelligence.  People with intellectual disabilities learn slower than other people and might need assistance in areas like communication, self-care, self-direction, health and safety, leisure, work, and functional academics.  While the term is still clinically correct, "intellectual disability" is becoming the preferred nomenclature.

"Phelan-McDermid syndrome" means a disorder caused by the loss of the terminal segment of the long arm of chromosome 22, which occurs near the end of the chromosome at a location designated q13.3, typically leading to developmental delay, intellectual disability, dolicocephaly, hypotonia, or absent or delayed speech.

Prader-Willi Syndrome: an inherited condition in which a severe lack of muscle tone is present in early infancy.  Later on, an excessive drive to eat usually leads to significant weight problems.  Obsessive compulsive behaviors and difficulty with social interactions are often present.  People with Prader-Willi Syndrome are usually short with small hands and feet.  They typically are mildly intelllectually disabled.

The goal of Florida's Voice on Developmental Disabilities is to create a network of individuals, agencies, and professionals working together to provide education, services, medical and legal guidance for friends and families of persons with developmental disabilities.

If you desire to join a group of dedicated individuals, families, agencies, and professionals who strive to be a voice and an advocate to make a difference in the lives of persons with developmental disabilities, please consider becoming a member and/or making a donation.

 Become a voice of many and make a difference in someone's life.