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A neurological disorder that affects normal development in the areas of social interaction, behavior, and communication skills. This developmental disability typically appears during the first three years of life. The main features include disturbances of: 1) developmental rates; 2) responses to sensory stimulation; 3) speech, language, and learning abilities; 4) ability to relate to people, events and objects.

Barrier Free

Refers to a building or area that is fully accessible to persons with mobility limitations. The term may be used more generally to refer to activities that are readily accessed by persons with any type of disability.

Brain Injury

Any level of injury to the brain often caused by an impact with the skull.

Care Line

The Care Line is the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services’ (NCDHHS) toll-free information and referral telephone service. Specialists provide information and referrals regarding human services in government and non-profit agencies.

Case Management Services

Assistance provided to persons in gaining access to needed social, medical, vocational and educational services and supports. See also service coordination and targeted case management.

Centers for Independent Living (CILs)

CILs are community-based, not-for-profit, non-residential organizations that provide advocacy, peer counseling, independent living skills training, and information and referral to persons of any age with any disability.

Cerebral Palsy

A condition caused by damage to the brain before, during or after birth, that limits a person’s ability to fully control his/her muscles. People with CP are affected in different areas of the body, in the number of body parts affected, and in their symptoms.  Common characteristics of CP include involuntary movements, problems making voluntary movements because muscles are spastic or tense, and a loss of coordination.


The State Consumer and Family Advisory Committee (State CFAC) is a self-governing and self-directed organization that advises the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services and the General Assembly on the planning and management of the State's public mental health, developmental disabilities, and substance abuse services system.

Circle of Support (also called Circle of Friends)

A group of people selected by an individual with developmental disabilities or other types of disabilities that meets regularly with the individual to help plan, design and support ways for that person to achieve his or her personal goals. Circles are based on the belief that the community is a place where everyone belongs. A circle can include friends, family, classmates, co-workers, professionals, and other community members.

Congenital Disability

A disability that exists at birth.

Cystic Fibrosis

A genetic disease that causes the body to produce an abnormally thick, sticky mucus.  This mucus clogs the lungs, causes lung infections, and blocks the pancreas, which keeps enzymes from reaching the intestines to digest food.


Hearing loss so severe that communication and learning are primarily by visual methods.  Members of the deaf community who communicate primarily using American Sign Language refer to themselves as Deaf.


Significant combined loss/impairment of both senses (hearing and visual).  People who are deaf-blind may have unique problems with communication, mobility and other daily living skills that make achieving independence more difficult.


Complete or partial loss of the sense of hearing.  The loss may be present at birth or acquired, temporary or permanent.  It may be caused by disease or injury to the auditory nerve.


The movement of people with disabilities from institutions and larger group homes into the community.

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North Carolina Council on Developmental Disabilities

Office Hours: 9AM-4PM Monday-Friday
1-800-357-6916 (Toll Free)
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This project was supported, in part by grant number 2001NCSCDD-02, from the U.S. Administration for Community Living, Department of Health and Human Services, Washington, D.C. 20201. Grantees undertaking projects with government sponsorship are encouraged to express freely their findings and conclusions. Points of view or opinions do not, therefore, necessarily represent official ACL policy.

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