The "new eligibility" for adult services

If your child has autism, they should now qualify for support service from the Department of Developmental Services (DDS), even if they do not seem to have a developmental disability.

  • In the past, to qualify for DDS services, a student had to have an I.Q. of 70 or below. (Click on the button below to learn more about I.Q.)

  • Now there are new rules (criteria) to see who can qualify.

  • Students with Autism Spectrum Disorders are now eligible. (Also, students with  Prader‐Willi or Smith‐Magenis Syndrome)

To qualify, you have to have a diagnosis from a qualified doctor, and show that you have Substantial Functional Limitations in 3 or more of these areas:

  • Self care

  • Receptive and expressive language

  • Learning

  • Mobility

  • Self direction

  • Capacity for independent living 

  • Economic self-sufficiency 


How can this help my child?

Many students with autism are very smart and do well in some or all subjects in school. But they may have social challenges that will make it hard for them to do well in a college or work environment. Now these students can get support from DDS>

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.

A person should qualify as having a developmental disability if they have a mental or physical impairmet that: started before they turned 22, will probably continue throughout their life, is due to an intellectual disability, autism spectrum disorder, Smith-Magenis Syndrome, or Prader-Willi Syndrome, and results in substantial functional limitations.

Many people with Autism Spectrum Disorders fit into this category.

Source: Department of Developmental Services

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 Disability, Autism Spectrum Disorder, Smith-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

Source: Mass DDS

What kind of services can they get?

  • Peer counseling to help them prepare for new environments

  • Work readiness training to help them learn how to behave and communicate in a job setting

  • Behavioral mentoring

  • In-home support

  • Social skills training

I.Q. stands for Intelligence Quotient. For years it has been a standard measure of intelligence, or how well a person can think and learn.

  • There are assessments that can test for I.Q. Sometimes these are part of the special education evaluation.

  • The I.Q. score is sometimes used to decide who can qualify for services. Most people have scores of 90-110. A score of 70 or below has been used to define people with intellectual disabilities.

  • But now people are realizing that there are many different ways to be "intelligent". We see with autism that many people can be very smart in some ways, but struggle with other basic skills.

Sources: Mass Advocates, DDS