With the switch of just one word, the way we see, know and experience developmental disabilities is about to change. Effective August 1st, the state of Colorado will redefine what it means to have a developmental disability and to be eligible to receive services. Currently, eligible individuals have cognitive and adaptive impairments at least two standard deviations below the norm. With this new change, however, individuals can qualify for services if they have a cognitive impairment or adaptive impairments. “The change of that one word—and to or—means we’ll be serving people who would have never qualified before,” said Susan Mizen, Horizons’ Executive Director. “Adapting to new people who can receive services means we’ll look and be different in the future. In order to meet individuals’ needs, we could potentially offer a new model of services.”
Adaptive behavior refers to an individual’s typical performance of the day-to-day activities required for personal and social sufficiency. Domains include communication, daily living skills, socialization, health and safety, functional academics, motor skills and maladaptive behavior. In order to qualify, deficits in any of these areas must be related to a cognitive impairment or neurological condition; they cannot be attributable only to physical or sensory impairment or mental illness. “This change broadens the scope,” says Horizons’ Director of Service Coordination, Amy Ibarra, “and could double the number of people who can receive services.”
There are over 600 neurological conditions, including autism, multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy, spina bifida, polio, brain and spinal cord injuries. “The new definition means that people who have high cognitive scores but show deficits in adaptive domains could qualify for additional support through Horizons,” Ibarra says. It applies to children age five and older and adults, and evidence of the impairment must occur before age 22. Only Community Centered Boards, such as Horizons, can make the criteria designation.
“This will have a major impact on who Horizons is, the services we offer, and the people we help,” said Mizen. It is also important, said Mizen and Ibarra, that those who might meet the criteria apply immediately. Individuals will receive services based on their application date. “Some people who qualify might not want services right now but may want them later in life. They’ll benefit from being on the waiting list as soon as possible,” Ibarra said. The state is not initially providing additional funding for the services or programs people will need, but Horizons is committed to client advocacy and will seek out grant and other funding opportunities for the Family Support Program.
IMPORTANT DOCUMENTS FOR DOWNLOAD:
Frequently Asked Questions.pdf 315kb
Developmental Disability Determination Criteria.pdf 315kb
Testing Requirements.pdf 328kb
Request for DD Form.pdf 160kb
FOCUS ON THE FUTURE:
Horizons and Alliance are pleased to release their new report Focus on the Future - Download the 434kb .pdf. This report takes input from self advocates, families and others to develop recommendations for change within the developmental disabilities system.