Helping to represent the interests of another as if they were one’s own. People who do this are known as advocates.
The most common definition is those persons who, before the age of three years old, develop severe disorders of communication and social behavior.


Case Management
Locating and coordinating support, information and service choices for a consumer and the family to feel secure, knowledgeable, responsible and empowered. Also known as Service Coordination.
Case Manager
Person assigned as the primary contact and partner at the regional center once eligibility has been determined. A Case Manager is a professional in the area of developmental disabilities and is knowledgeable about resources, supports and services.
Cerebral Palsy (CP)
Problems with muscle control and coordination as a result of trauma to parts of the brain at birth or during early life.
A person who is eligible for and uses regional center services. Also referred to as a consumer.
Clients’ Rights Advocate
A designated individual whose role is to assist individuals with special developmental needs to exercise all rights guaranteed by law.
Consumer Advocate
An individual with developmental disabilities who is employed by the regional center to assist in quality assurance efforts, support and advocate for consumers, and provide peer training.


Department of Developmental Services (DDS)
Administers direct service to children and adults in state developmental centers. DDS also provides programs to persons with developmental disabilities who live in the community through contracts with regional centers. In addition, the Department sets policy, determines rates, and advocates for people through its various divisions.
Developmental Delay
A significant difference between an infant’s or toddler’s current level of functioning and the expected level of functioning and development for his/her chronological age in one or more of the following developmental areas: Cognitive, Motor and Physical, Communication, Social or Emotional, and Adaptive.
Developmental Disability
California defines a person with a developmental disability as anyone who has acquired intellectual disability, autism, epilepsy or cerebral palsy before age 18 and is likely to need special services throughout life. The federal definition uses age 22 and looks at a person’s range of abilities instead of diagnostic categories.


Early Intervention
A multi-disciplinary program to provide services to developmentally at-risk and delayed infants (birth to three years of age), usually involving medical, educational, and psychosocial professionals. Infant intervention programs also provide emotional support, guidance and information to parents.
Persons with developmental disabilities and their families have the right to receive services and supports which will enable them to make decisions and choices about how, and with whom, they want to live their lives; achieve the highest self-sufficiency possible; and lead productive, independent and satisfying lives as part of the community in which they live.
A condition occurring in the brain which can cause a variety of nervous system episodes involving muscle contractions and other disturbances of bodily functions known as seizures.
Exceptions Committee
A group of regional center staff who review and make a decision regarding a request that is an exception to the regional center’s funding guidelines.


Fair Hearing
A procedure used by individuals who wish to question the decision of an agency regarding the type or amount of service they receive, or any other action they feel to be illegal, discriminatory, or not in their best interest.


Generic Agency
Any agency which has a legal responsibility to serve all members of the general public and which is receiving public funds for providing such services.
Generic Resources
Resources available to all persons residing within a given area (e.g. city, county, or state) without additional qualifications or requirements, such as public education, mental health services, and parks and recreational programs.


Individual Educational Plan (lEP)
Required by Public Law 94-142, this plan is developed for school-age individuals by a team of people including parents, teachers and psychologists. The lEP describes the direction a student with special needs will be going in the future and how to get there.
Individual Family Service Plan (IFSP)
A written plan that outlines special services, goals and objectives for a family of a child from birth to three years of age. The IFSP is developed by the regional center Case Manager and the family.
Individual Program Plan (IPP)
A written plan that outlines special services, goals and objectives for a person who needs individualized help because of a developmental disability. The IPP is developed by the regional center Case Manager and the consumer.
Intake and Assessment
A process used by regional centers to determine whether or not individuals are eligible for their services and what services are needed.
Intellectual Disability
People who have been diagnosed with intellectual disability simply learn at a rate that is slower than other people. In the State of California, when this diagnosis occurs before age 18, it is called a developmental disability.
Interdisciplinary Team (IDT)
A group of people (parents, teachers, psychologists, social workers, and others) who are involved with a consumer in helping him/her get the services he/she needs by developing the lEP, IPP, or IPSP.


Lanterman Developmental Disabilities Act of 1976 (Lanterman Act)
This California state law provides basic service rights to persons with developmental disabilities. It put in place the Department of Developmental Services (DDS), Regional Centers, State Council on Developmental Disabilities and Area Boards to establish needed services and monitor their delivery.
Least Restrictive Environment
A mandate established by federal and state laws and the courts that states that all people, regardless of disability, have the right to be served in ways and in places that allow a person to be as independent as possible with the least amount of supervision necessary.


Natural Environment
Places and social contexts commonly used by individuals without developmental disabilities.
Natural Support
Refers to support and assistance that naturally comes from the associations and relationships developed in natural environments.


Person-Centered Planning
The way in which the planning team works together to figure out where you want to go (goals), how you want to get there (objectives), and what kinds of support you need to get there. Person-centered planning means focusing on your strengths, capabilities and needs, and helping you to have an independent, productive and satisfying life.
Protection and Advocacy, Inc.
A private nonprofit corporation designated by the Governor of California under federal law for the protection and advocacy of the rights of persons with developmental disabilities.
Purchase of Service (POS) Funds
Funds identified in the Budget Act of the regional center system for the purpose of purchasing services provided by vendors for consumers.


Quality Assurance (QA)
A set of requirements that cover the major areas of client care and existence, including: programming focus and hours, client rights, community integration, health, the physical plant and safety, client records, staff training, and qualifications and administration.


Regional Center
A diagnostic, counseling and service coordination center for persons with developmental disabilities and their families which is established by a private, non-profit community agency/corporation acting as a contracting agency. Twenty-one centers throughout California provide people with residential, day, transportation, social, independent living, respite, medical, psychological, preschool and other services.


Service Coordination
Locating and coordinating support, information and service choices for a consumer and the family to feel secure, knowledgeable, responsible and empowered. Also known as Case Management.