Developmental Disabilities Legislative Forum
October 21, 2004
Position Statement on eligibility criteria for persons with developmental disabilities and neurological dysfunction and their difficulty with accessing needed services:
ELIMINATE OUTDATED AND RESTRICTIVE ELIGIBILITY CRITERIA.
CHALLENGE: Current eligibility criteria in the state of Arizona is based first on IQ and then on ability to function. This status prevents many people with developmental disabilities and neurological dysfunction from accessing needed support services, putting them at high risk for institutionalization.
SOLUTION: Review service eligibility criteria to ensure qualification for needed services by individuals with developmental disabilities based solely on functional ability.
RATIONALE: Certain individuals with neurological dysfunction may test in the normal or low normal range of IQ (70 and above) which automatically disqualifies them for services under the present system. However, many of these individuals function at a level far below their IQ. They may have normal intelligence and good verbal skills but not be able to function safely in life because of poor judgment, social immaturity, and inability to apply learned skills to daily life. This is especially true for persons with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) where 85% of individuals have a normal IQ but only 10% are capable of living and working independently. Their functional impairments are the result of organic brain damage present at birth. Those individuals with FASD who do not qualify for DD services are at high risk of dropping out of school, engaging in substance abuse, sustaining injuries and health problems, developing serious mental health issues, becoming homeless, and/or getting in trouble with the law. The cost of providing services for treatment and incarceration far outweigh the cost of providing protective supports in the DD system.
The federal government uses eligibility criteria based only on functional ability, not IQ. Most states have changed their criteria to match federal guidelines. Arizona has been a leader in raising awareness about FASD but is lagging far behind other states in providing services to individuals who are affected. It is time for Arizona to catch up and come in line with federal criteria to meet the needs of all persons with developmental disabilities who need services.
By providing adequate and appropriate support services, we can empower these individuals to become healthy, productive citizens. We cannot afford to deny them services. This impacts not only the quality of life of the individuals and their families, but the future health of the community.
FAS Community Resource Center