Facts You Need to Know

Developmental Disability is a broad term that refers to a variety of conditions that interfere with a person’s ability to function in everyday activities. The Florida Statutes define developmental disabilities as Spina Bifida, Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Prader-Willi Syndrome and mental retardation. Most developmental disabilities are present at birth, but others may not be recognized and identified for several months.

  1. Investigate and research local programs available to your special-needs’ loved one.
  2. If they are a Florida resident, it is VERY IMPORTANT for your child or special-needs’ loved one to be on the Med Waiver Program or to be placed on the waiting list! If not, don’t wait a day longer! If you are not on the Med Waiver list, then you can contact the agency for people with disabilities (APD). The southeast region contact is Beatrice Dejoie @ 772-467-3181, the Medicaid Waiver program supervisor, Dejoie@apdcares.org.
  3. Parents and guardians of special-needs’ loved ones should know that when their loved one turns the age of 18 – by law – they become their own legal guardian, by law they can make their own decisions, and you no longer have precedence over their choices, unless they allow you their rights and it must be written on legal paper and signed by you and the recipient and notarized. Only court appointed guardians take precedence over their legal age. Sometimes guardianships, trusts, and/or wills may be the only way to protect a special-needs’ family member or ensure his/her health, safety, and financial security. You must preserve government benefits and their residential placements and guardianship issues. Proper planning is essential and seeking legal counsel (preferably those who specialize in guardianships/trusts) would be highly recommended.
  4. Florida Gov. Rick Scott has improved services in the past year, however it still needs further improvement. The new I-Budget has taken effect and it should help families and providers to direct funds to where they are needed the most.
  5. Ask yourself this question now, “What is going to happen when I die or if I become incapacitated? Who will take care of my child?”
  6. Get involved with your community, network, and do your research – know all your options. Be pro-active!
  7. Autism now affects 1 in 68 children and boys five times more than girls.
  8. If you’re looking for a residential facility for your child, or adult, they MUST be on the Florida Med Waiver program, unless families want to pay privately. However, it can be VERY costly.
  9. Surround yourself around a strong support system – whether it is family, friends, or organizations that can help you get through the challenges.
  10. There are many services available to your special-needs’ loved one. Check with your social worker or support coordinator for assistance about what those options are.

Remember: As challenging as it may seem at times, you are not alone in this! There are always options and support available to you, just reach out and seek it!

Here are some facts about Autism Spectrum Disorder.

Autism Facts…

Taken from Autism Speaks (autismspeaks.org), there has been a 600% increase in the last two decades for Autism. More children will be diagnosed with Autism this year then Aids, Pediatric Cancer, and/or Diabetes combined. Autism costs the nation over 35 billion per year and is expected to increase; there is no cure for Autism.

According to, “Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

  •  “Autism Prevalence. On March 27, 2014 CDC released new data. In the United States, the study identified 1 in 68 children (1 in 42 boys and 1 in 189 girls as having Autism Spectrum. It is the fastest growing serious developmental disability in the United States.”
  •  “More children will be diagnosed with Autism this year than with AIDS, diabetes, and Cancer combined.”
  •  “67 children are diagnosed with Autism per day. A new case is diagnosed almost every twenty minutes.”
  • “Boys are 5 times more likely than girls to have Autism.”
  • “There is no known cure for Autism, and there are many conflicting theories about what causes this disorder.”

Autism is a lifelong developmental disability that affects the way a person communicates and relates to people around them. People with Autism have difficulties with everyday social interaction. This disorder usually can be identified as early as 2. Most children with an ASD (Autistic Spectrum Disorder) will have difficulty interacting with others. This is because in order to be successful at interaction, the child needs to respond to others when they are approached by them, or to be able to respond to initiate interactions. Although many children with an ASD are able to do this when they want something, they tend not to use interaction to show people things or to be sociable. Many experts believe that the pattern of behavior which effects brain development is not due to the way a person has been brought up.

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