On Tuesday, September 10, The Arc’s Executive Director, Leo Sarkissian, testified before the legislature’s Children, Families and Persons with Disabilities Committee in support of H155 and S61, two bills that will adopt the federal definition of developmental disability in place of the current state definition.
The bills would amend the definition to include all adult individuals with a developmental disability, including Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASDs) and Cerebral palsy. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) describes developmental disabilities as “a group of conditions due to impairment in physical, learning, language, or behavior areas. These conditions begin during the developmental period, may impact day-to-day functioning, and usually last throughout a person’s lifetime.”
Conditions such as Down syndrome, Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), Cerebral palsy, Spina bifida, Fragile X syndrome, Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASDs) and Tourette syndromes (TS) are examples of DD and may significantly affect a person’s ability to access and be meaningfully included in education, employment, and community living.
The Arc believes that at a minimum, those with DD should have access to assistance, which is consistent with transition services in special education with the appropriate modifications as the individual becomes an adult. This assistance should be ‘person-centered’ – considering one’s needs, strengths, preferences, and interests.
Leo’s testimony was followed by other advocates and individuals, as well as the Disability Law Center and the Massachusetts Developmental Disabilities Council who testified before the Committee in support of this legislation.