Abilities United advances advocacy, inclusion, and independence for people with developmental disabilities.


Tell me more about Developmental Disabilities

What is a developmental disability?


According to the California Welfare and Institutions Code Section 4512 a developmental disability originates before an individual reaches age 18, continues or can be expected to continue indefinitely, and constitutes a substantial handicap for that individual. Included in this definition are mental retardation, cerebral palsy, epilepsy and autism. Also included are disabling conditions found to be closely related to mental retardation or to require treatment similar to that required for individuals with mental retardation.


What is considered a developmental delay?

When an infant or toddler's current level of functioning is significantly different from the expected level for his/her chronological age in one or more of the following developmental areas:

  • Cognitive
  • Motor and physical including vision and hearing
  • Communication
  • Social or emotional
  • Adaptive

How many people have a developmental disability?

  • About 17% of U.S. children under 18 years of age have a developmental disability.
  • Approximately 2% of school-aged children in the U.S. have a serious developmental disability and need special education services or supportive care.
  • State and federal education departments spend about $36 billion each year on special education programs for individuals with developmental disabilities who are 3-21 years old.


How can I best help my child?

What services can I get for my child who has a developmental disability or delay?

The Lanterman Act of California establishes an entitlement to services and supports for persons with developmental disabilities, those at risk of developing a developmental disability, and their families. Services are coordinated through the Regional Centers and may include:

  • Outreach activities to identify persons who may need regional center services.
  • Assessment and evaluation to determine eligibility for regional center services.
  • Preventive and counseling services for persons at high risk of having a baby with a developmental disability.
  • Services for infants who have a high risk of becoming developmentally disabled.
  • Development of an Individual Program Plan (IPP), through a person-centered planning process, which states the specific outcomes the consumer is trying to achieve, and the services and supports required to meet those outcomes.
  • Service coordination. Coordination of services and supports to assist consumers in meeting the desired outcomes they have specified in their IPPs.
  • Development of innovative, cost-effective services and supports that are flexible, individualized and promote community integration.
  • Assurance of the quality and effectiveness of services and supports that are provided to the consumer.
    Advocacy to protect the civil, legal and service rights of regional center consumers.

What are the services that Abilities United can provide my child?

Abilities United offers a lifetime of services, from infancy through adulthood. Depending on the needs of your child we provide services in:

Are any of your services appropriate for children without disabilities?

Yes! One of Abilities United's goals is to include all members of the community in our services. The services appropriate for any one are:

If other children make fun of my son because he has a disability can Abilities United help me talk to them?

  • One of the goals of Abilities United is to educate the community about developmental disabilities. We are available for speaking engagements to any interested audience and our facility is available for tours.
  • You can also call us at 650-494-0550 or reach us via this Contact Form for assistance or information.

I need to find a residential program/housing for my adult son/daughter, where can I get information?

My developmentally disabled child is ready to get a job. How do I get help to make this happen?

  • You can begin by contacting the California Department of Rehabilitation to talk to a counselor to determine eligibility for employment services.
  • Abilities United offers full-service Employment Services that provide job assessment, skills training, coaching, and placements for people with developmental disabilities.

Abilities United Service Questions

How can I talk to the Chief Executive Officer?

  • Charlies Weidanz, our Chief Executive Officer is always interested and available to talk to our participants and their families or caregivers. He can be reached at 650-494-0550 or via this Contact Form

If I have a concern about a Abilities United program what do I do?

  • First, talk to the Program Manager or the Associate Director to try to get your concern addressed. Abilities United has a grievance procedure if you feel your concern is still unresolved.

Can parents and participants go to Abilities United Board meetings? When are they?

  • All parents, participants, donors, volunteers and community members are welcome at Abilities United Board meetings, which are held on the first Tuesday of each month at 6:30 pm. Meetings are held in the conference room located at 525 East Charleston Road in Palo Alto.

What percentage of Abilities United revenues is funded by the state of California?

  • The State of California approximately 50% of the funds needed for Abilities United to provide services to people with developmental disabilities.  The remainder of Abilities United's revenue is generated through private philanthropy, grants, and private service fees.

Can parents fundraise for Abilities United?

  • Fundraising is our lifeblood! We welcome and need parental involvement in our fundraising efforts. There are many ways parents can become involved.
    • PASA: parents with children in Early Intervention can join PASA and become active in their specific fund raising projects.
    • Start your own parent fund raising group for the program your child uses.
    • Swim at our annual September Aquathon
    • Attend our annual November Authors Luncheon
    • Write letters to your friends, family, and colleagues about the difference Abilities United has made in your life and your child's life. A heartfelt letter from you, rather than the Abilities United agency, asking for their help or donations, works wonders in helping us raise money to continue the services.
    • Post your thoughts about Abilities United on Yelp Yahoo Google Charity Navigator
    • Donate your vehicle to Abilities United.
    • Make a donation in the form of cash, stock, endowment, corporate match, in-kind items, etc.
    • Arrange for Abilities United speaking engagements at your local church, civic organization, school, employer, etc.
    • Arrange for tours of Abilities United.
    • Join the Abilities United online communityand share your stories and experiences with your family and friends

Can parents volunteer for Abilities United?

Volunteers are incredibly important at Abilities United! We welcome and need parental involvement in our programs, administration, and fundraising events. There are many way parents can become involved.



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