The Regional Center of Orange County (RCOC) serves people of all ages with developmental disabilities. We also serve infants and toddlers with developmental delays as well as those who are at high risk for developmental disability or those who have an established risk for developmental disability under the federal Early Start program. If you think you, your child or someone you know may be at risk for or may have a developmental disability, please review this information and contact our regional center.

How is a Developmental Disability Defined for Regional Center Eligibility?

A developmental disability is defined in California law as intellectual disability, cerebral palsy, epilepsy, and autism. Other substantially disabling conditions closely related to intellectual disability or which require treatment similar to those required by persons with intellectual disability may be eligible for services. The onset of these conditions had to have been prior to age 18; it continues, or can be expected to continue indefinitely and constitutes a substantial handicap for the individual.

A Substantial Disability:

  • is a condition that results in major impairment of cognitive and/or social functioning, representing sufficient impairment to require interdisciplinary planning and coordination of special or generic services to assist the individual in achieving maximum potential; and
  • must cause significant functional limitations, as determined by the regional center, in three or more of the following areas of major life activity, as appropriate to the person’s age. Since an individual’s cognitive and/or social functioning are many-faceted, the existence of a major impairment shall be determined through assessment(s) in the following areas of daily life activity:
    • Receptive and expressive language;
    • Learning;
    • Self-care;
    • Mobility;
    • Self-direction;
    • Capacity for independent living;
    • Economic self-sufficiency

A Developmental Disability shall not include handicapping conditions that are:

  • Solely psychiatric disorders where there is impaired intellectual or social functioning which originated as a result of the psychiatric disorder or treatment given for such a disorder. Such psychiatric disorders include psycho-social deprivation and/or psychosis, severe neurosis, or personality disorders even where social and intellectual functioning has become seriously impaired as an integral manifestation of the disorder.
  • Solely learning disabilities. A learning disability is a condition that manifests as a significant discrepancy between estimated cognitive potential and actual level of educational performance and which is not a result of generalized intellectual disability, educational or psycho-social deprivation, psychiatric disorder, or sensory loss.
  • Solely physical in nature. These conditions include congenital anomalies or conditions acquired through disease, accident, or faulty development which are not associated with a neurological impairment that results in a need for treatment similar to that required for intellectual disability. Some examples are polio, muscular dystrophy, or arthritis.