What is a Developmental Disability?

Each service system (such as Early Intervention (0-3) Preschool Special Education 3-5 (CPSE) Office for People with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD) etc. has their own definition of a developmental disability or delay and set of assessments or documents which are needed to determine eligibility for services under that program.
Government Departments administer different programs which provide services to children with a developmental disability. These state agencies may include the New York State Department of Health which is the “lead agency” for the Early Intervention Program. This means they are charged with the responsibility of administering all services provided by the program and ensuring that the program is run in accordance with all applicable laws, statutes and regulations, whether federal under Part C of IDEA, or State.

The New York State Department of Education administers all education services for children from ages 3-21. This includes the Preschool Special Education (or CPSE) for 3-5 year olds to Special Education services for children aged 5-21. The NYS Office of People with Developmental Disabilities provides various services to children of any age and to the families who are caring for them. We will discuss more about these options later.

New York State's Definition of Developmental Delay
Developmental delay means that a child has not attained developmental milestones expected for the child's age adjusted for prematurity in one or more of the following areas of development: cognitive, physical (including vision and hearing), communication, social-emotional, or adaptive development.

For the purposes of the Early Intervention Program, a developmental delay is a delay that has been measured by qualified personnel using informed clinical opinion, appropriate diagnostic procedures, and/or instruments, and documented as:
A 12-month delay in one functional area;
or A 33% delay in one functional area
or a 25% delay in each of two areas;

or If appropriate, standardized instruments are individually administered in the evaluation, a score of at least 2.0 standard deviation below the mean in one functional area or a score of at least 1.5 standard deviation below the mean in each of two functional areas..



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