DDS: the Department of Developmental Services

This agency offers services to children and adults with developmental disabilities.

  • There are many different supports and services. They can help with finding a place to live, getting training or in-home support, connecting with community activities, and much more.

  • There is a process of applying. Once you have applied and your child is registered, you can get the services as long as they still qualify. Once they turn 22, they will have to re-apply for adult services.

  • To learn more, see this Overview of DDS Services. (Click on it to open the web page in a new tab.)

* Note: Don't confuse this with the other DDS acronym: The Mass Rehab Commission's Disability Determination Services.


Click the buttons below to learn more. Click the link at the bottom of the page to download a 1-page description. (It will open in a new tab or appear in the bottom corner of your screen.)

A person has to be a Massachusetts resident and have a documented Developmental Disability.

This is any condition that limits someone's ability to take care of themselves, starts when they are young and will probably affect them for their whole life.

It can be physical (like being blind) or intellectual. Intellectual or cognitive refers to how someone's mind works. If you have trouble thinking, learning and communicating in a typical way, these are cognitive or intellectual limitations.

Many people with Autism Spectrum Disorders fit into this category.

Here is the DDS definition of developmental disability: For persons who are five years of age or older, a severe, chronic disability that:

  1. is attributable to a mental or physical impairment resulting from Intellectual DisabilityAutism Spectrum DisorderSmith-Magenis Syndrome, or Prader-Willi Syndrome

  2. is manifested before the individual attains 22 years of age

  3. is likely to continue indefinitely

  4. results in substantial functional limitations

There are 4 regions of DDS in Massachusetts. Each one has a Regional Eligibility Team, who will be in charge of your application.

To apply for DDS services:

  1. Call your nearest DDS Office. Use this DDS Area Locator to find one near you. (Click on the underlined part to open this web page in a new window.)

  2. Tell them you want to apply for DDS services, and ask them which application to use.

  3. Click the links at the bottom of the page to download a PDF copy of the application you need.

The application will ask you for much of the same information that you have collected already for EI. If you have an EI binder, this will be easy!

What to expect:

  • You will get a call from a Regional Eligibility Team member.

  • They will schedule a meeting with you to go over your application.

  • They will make a decision within 60 days to see if your child qualifies. If they qualified for EI, they may also qualify for DDS services.

  • They will assign a coordinator to help you with your services.

For more information, call your local DDS office.   (Click on the underlined part to open the website in a new tab on your screen.)

Sources: EOHHS, MA DDS

Learn more:

Go to these links to see pages from the DDS website. (They will open in new tabs.)


Source: Mass DDS