I have a developmental or intellectual disability. Can I get help from the government?

If you have a developmental disability or an intellectual disability, you may be able to get services and supports through Developmental Services Ontario (DSO).

Developmental Services Ontario is part of the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services. There are 9 DSO agencies in Ontario. The one in your region can help you get the services and supports that are available in your community.

Who can get services and supports

To get developmental services and supports, you must:

  • have a developmental disability
  • be over 18 years old
  • live in Ontario

What a developmental disability is

The law says a developmental disability is a disability that causes “significant limitations in cognitive functioning and adaptive functioning”.

This means you need some help to learn, understand information, and complete daily tasks.

It must be a disability that started before you turned 18 and that will probably last your whole life.

A developmental disability affects large parts of your life, such as:

  • dressing yourself, going to the washroom, bathing and other personal care
  • talking to people and understanding what they say
  • learning new ideas and how to do something new
  • cooking, cleaning and other things you would have to do to live on your own

We use the term “developmental disability” because it is used by Developmental Services Ontario. But some people prefer the term “intellectual disability”. And some people prefer to say they have been “labelled with a disability” rather than they “have a disability”.

DSO services and supports and ODSP

If you get money from the DSO while you are on the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP), ODSP will not reduce your benefits if you follow these rules:

  • use the DSO money only for developmental services and supports
  • pay for those services and supports soon after you get the money

And if you already get DSO services and supports, you don’t have to prove you have a disability when you apply for ODSP.

Get legal help

You can call ARCH Disability Law Centre for legal information about getting services and supports.  ARCH is a legal clinic and its services are free to people with disabilities. Usually, ARCH helps people with low income or who get social assistance.

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