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What Is an Intellectual and Developmental Disability?

At Providence, we work to help others understand the important contributions those with disabilities can make and are making to the world around us. Everyone has a right to a bright future and a meaningful role in society and for those with intellectual and developmental disabilities it takes a community that understands their challenges and appreciates their gifts. Through greater education and understanding, we can build a better community for all.

What exactly is an intellectual and developmental disability? How does it impact our family, loved ones, and overall community? Important questions; and ones our experts are happy to talk about.

What Is a Developmental Disability?

As a strict definition, a developmental disability is one of many chronic conditions that stunt and make difficult many tasks that are standard to the overall population. Conditions are exceptionally diverse, and may impact physical capabilities, mental capabilities, or a combination of the two.

The Characteristics of a Developmental Disability

As the conditions are especially diverse, developmental disabilities are treated as a family of conditions. Characteristics are shared throughout, though the issues one can experience can range wildly. Developmental disabilities are generally characterized by:

  • A physical impairment, a mental impairment, or a combination of the two.
  • Manifests before the age of twenty-two.
  • Most often will continue throughout the lifespan of the individual.
  • Creates a need for support throughout life, requiring specialized care, treatment, or coordinated services created to assist those with disabilities.

Providence was created to provide the comprehensive care and services that enable these individuals to build on their abilities, achieve life goals, and find their rightful role in their communities. Our programs and services were created to provide these men and women with exceptional care, mentoring, and resources. With the support of Providence, those we serve can attain greater levels of individuality and independence, and begin building a fulfilling life.

For a more in-depth understanding, and information geared to specified conditions, we urge you to read further. There are numerous sources available for your use, including the Maryland Developmental Disabilities Council, and the Developmental Disabilities Administration through

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