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A developmental disability is a disability that develops during childhood and impacts the child’s development. Some people are born with developmental disabilities, while others develop them during early childhood. Causes are not always known, but may include: injuries, genetics, medical issues or toxins. Arizona’s definition of developmental disability is broken down into four diagnoses.

Four Diagnoses


Autism is a brain disorder that begins in early childhood and persists throughout adulthood. Autism affects three crucial areas of development: Communication Social interaction Creative or imaginative play

Cerebral Palsy

Cerebral palsy is characterized by an inability to fully control motor function, particularly muscle control and coordination. Cerebral palsy should not be confused with cognitive disabilities. Cerebral palsy simply affects muscles

Cognitive Disabilities

Cognitive disabilities have to do with the way a person acquires and processes information. A Cognitive Disability must be present from childhood (before the age of 18)


Epilepsy is a neurological condition that results in seizures. A person may have seizures and not have epilepsy (such as seizures during a fever or a low blood sugar)

Determining Eligibility


Many children do not have a specific diagnosis, so DDD uses alternate ways to determine eligibility under the age of six.




A child has a diagnosis of one of the four (Cognitive Disability, Cerebral Palsy, Epilepsy, Autism) A child is determined to be “at risk” for one of the four (Down Syndrome and Fragile X are examples of conditions that automatically place a child “at risk”)

A child demonstrates a delay that may lead to one of the four

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