Developmental Disabilities

What is a developmental Disability?

Developmental disabilities are a group of chronic conditions that typically involve mental or physical impairment which does not include mental illness.  (For mental illness see Mental Health.)

Qualifications for services are based on functionality, not IQ.  A disability may exist if there is a problem with performing major life skills:  self-care, language, mobility, learning, self-direction, independent living and economic self-sufficiency. To be eligible for services in Ohio, the condition must occur before age 22 and be permanent.  About 5% of the general population may be affected.


What are considered developmental disabilities?

Common disabilities

  • Autism: 1 in 66 children now diagnosed with Autism
  • Blindness
  • Cerebral Palsy
  • Epilepsy
  • Hearing Loss
  • Intellectual disabilities


What is a Guardian?

A guardian is an individual appointed by Probate Court to protect, make decisions for, and act for a person who is incompetent. The person who needs a guardian is known as a ward. A guardian of an adult, once appointed by the Court, will receive Letters of Authority to act as legal guardian of the ward.  For more information about Guardianship in Probate Court click here.


Assessment for guardianship

Not all developmentally disabled individuals require a guardian.  No assumptions are made about an individual based only on disabilities.
There is a three tiered approach which involves:

  • The presumption of competency: Each individual and situation must be assessed to determine needs and capabilities. This also determines the level of services needed and if guardianship is appropriate.
  • The choice of a decision maker.
  • The need for guardianship: the court will consider evidence, obtain medical records and must be clearly convinced that a person cannot make decisions on their own and that alternatives would not be sufficient.


Alternatives to Guardianship from least restrictive to more restrictive:

  • Power of Attorney
  • Representative payee
  • Conservatorship
  • Limited guardianship


Court Videos on Guardianship of a person with Disabilities

Guardianship of Persons with Developmental Disabilities
An in-depth look at the quality of care and support for your ward with developmental disabilities.
Click for Video

Guardianship:  As Your Special Needs Child Becomes An Adult
Parents ask Judge Stormer questions about guardianship and share their hopes and dreams for their DD children as they become adults.
Click for Video


What is the County Board of Developmental Disabilities and what is its role?

Facts about County Boards of Developmental Disability (CBDD)

  • Every county in Ohio has a CBDD
  • They are to:
    • Determine eligibility
    • Assess needs
    • Make sure individuals get the support and services they need (Board and Community delivered)
    • Monitor/quality assurance/investigate if necessary


What is the role of a service and support administrator?

Service and support administrator’s role

With the requirement to use person centered planning approach, the Service Support administrator  takes into account a person’s wants, desires and needs while maintaining their health and safety.  They are to guide the team made up of the individual, the providers, the guardian, any advocates.  This team looks to the person’s strengths and abilities – not their inabilities – and build on those.  Their plan is based on what the individual wants to achieve.


Individualized Service plans

Guardians sit in on team meetings and participate in this is a 12 month guide with outcomes and actions steps.  This plan drives all services and supports and strategies for personal care, work and behavior supports.


Restrictive Measures

  • Must be updated every 12 months
  • Require DD Board to have Human Rights Committee to oversee and approve all measures
    • Least restrictive environment possible
    • No implementations are for provider convenience of because guardian “says so.”
    • Team is to work together cohesively in the community for the individual.
    • Interventions are to be justified, data driven, measurable, and uphold a person’s rights.


Helpful resources


What are some of the rights included in the Bill of rights for Ohio citizens whether disabled or not from ORC 5123.62?

Right to Vote and learn about laws in the community.
Right to have and see friends.
Right to be treated like everyone else
Right to work and make their own money
Right to good, nutritious food and access to it
Right to ask for help
Right to pick their care providers
Right to privacy and time to themselves, alone and away from others
Right to access the community and join in activities by themselves, if capable
Right to be part of making decisions about their own life and to be heard.
Right to ask someone they want to help them make decisions on their behalf
Right to have access to a telephone and communicate with others
Right to engage in the community with providers and team members
Right to go to a doctor or a dentist
Right to refuse medicine
Right not to be hit, yelled at or bullied and to be treated nicely at all times
Right to be treated like everyone else
Right to complain
Right to say “yes” or “no” about where they live, work and participate in the community
Right to have their own things and access to them.
Right to say “yes” or “no” to being part of an experiment or study.