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Eligibility for Developmental Services and Supports

Before a person can apply for adult developmental services, Development Services Ontario Toronto Region (DSO Toronto Region) will determine if an individual is eligible for services under the Services and Supports to Promote the Social Inclusion of Persons with Developmental Disabilities Act.

The individual must provide a psychological assessment or report signed by a psychologist or psychological associate registered with the College of Psychologists of Ontario (or equivalent body in another province) that states the individual has a developmental disability in accordance with the Act and Regulation.

This type of psychological assessment measures an individuals level of cognitive and adaptive functioning.

A psychological assessment can be provided at any time in the individual’s life and are often conducted in school by the school psychologist or psychological associate.  Individuals can provide a private assessment or the Developmental Services Ontario Toronto Region navigator can assist the individual by referring that person to a Ministry funded service to access an assessment.

If the person has already obtained a psychological assessment through their school, a hospital, Surrey Place Centre, or another organization, you can give us a copy of this assessment. We will review it to make sure that an individual is eligible.

Please contact us if you have any questions. 


Developmental Services Ontario organizations are the single points of access to adult developmental services across the province. Provision of information on services and supports, both in developmental services and the broader community;

  • Confirmation of eligibility for services and supports;
  • Completion of the application and needs assessment;
  • Service navigation;
  • And referral to services and supports.

The DSOs apply a common provincial eligibility definition and confirmation process. This includes documentation of age, residency, citizenship status, and developmental disability. DSOs confirm eligibility for all adult developmental services and supports

This guide is intended for psychologists, psychological associates, or people who would like a more detailed understanding of the eligibility confirmation process. This guide is based, in part, on resource materials developed by the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health for the Government of Ontario.


Documentation from a psychologist or psychological associate – typically, a psychological assessment – is reviewed to ensure that the individual meets three criteria: cognitive, adaptive, and age of onset. The requirements for each criterion are outlined below.

Cognitive Functioning

A person`s psychological assessment must indicate an overall (full-scale IQ) score of two standard deviations below the mean, plus or minus standard error of measurement, on a standardized intelligence test, such as the WAIS-R. This equates to a standard score of 75 or lower (due to standard error of measurement); at or below the 5th percentile (due to standard error of measurement); or clinically significant descriptions, such as “mildly delayed range” (or more severe.)

When someone’s overall IQ does not meet the cognitive criterion, we can look at specific subscale results. Here, a person’s full-scale IQ may not meet the cognitive criterion – but there is a scatter among the different abilities and specific factors or indices of cognitive functioning (such as verbal reasoning, working memory, etc.) When a psychological assessment report confirms that a person’s cognitive functioning falls two standard deviations below the mean in two or more subscales on a standardized intelligence test AND they have a history of requiring habilitative support, then they may also meet the cognitive criterion. In reviewing subscale results, scores must be 70 or below, and not 71 to 75.

Finally, the DSO may apply a third option. When a psychologist or psychological associate has made a clinical determination that the person demonstrates significant limitations in cognitive functioning and has a history of requiring habilitative supports, they may confirm that the person meets the cognitive criterion. This may include situations where someone is unable to participate or complete testing. This can only be confirmed by a psychologist or psychological associate.

Adaptive Functioning

Once someone has met the cognitive criterion, we look at adaptive functioning. This includes practical, conceptual, and social skills. Practical skills include activities of daily living, work-related skills, and ability to participate in the community. Conceptual skills include language, reading and writing, use of money, time, and number concepts. Social skills include interpersonal skills, self-esteem, social responsibility, and social problem-solving.

When evaluating documentation for adaptive functioning, a psychological assessment will often include use of a test like the Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scales or the Scales of Independent Behavior. In the results of these tests, we look for a score of at least two standard deviations below the mean, plus or minus standard error measurement in conceptual, social, or practical skills (or equivalent.) This equates to a standard score of 75 or below, below the 5th percentile, or equivalent clinical descriptors of severity or age-equivalents.

In some situations, we may also be able to use other assessment information or documentation to confirm that a person meets the adaptive criterion for eligibility. We would be confirming that these limitations were reported consistently, or in more than one setting.

Age of Onset

Finally, DSOs need to confirm that limitations in cognitive and adaptive functioning were present before age 18. There are many reasons why a person may have severely limited adaptive skills. Severe mental health issues, learning disabilities, acquired brain injury, or certain other medical conditions can result in severe adaptive impairments. However, a person must have both significant cognitive and adaptive impairments, noted prior to age 18, to qualify for adult developmental services and supports.

Age of onset may be confirmed simply by having a psychological assessment that was completed prior to that age. A psychologist may also make reference to the person‘s history in their report. If this is not provided or is unclear, the DSO will need to contact the psychologist to confirm that this criterion has been met.


The Services and Supports to Promote the Social Inclusion of Persons with Developmental Disabilities Act and its corollary regulations provide a definition of eligibility that can only be confirmed by a psychologist or psychological associate. For people who do not have an assessment, there may be limited, publicly-funded assessment resources available in their community. Alternatively, people may choose to purchase an assessment. A registry of psychologists can be accessed via the website of the Ontario College of Psychologists. For more information, please contact your DSO Toronto office.

Feb 2013

Printable version: What You Need to Know About Eligibility

Confirming Eligibility for Adult Developmental Services

When you call DSO Toronto Region, we can provide you with information and answer any questions you might have about the eligibility.

Eligibility Criteria:

  • Significant limitation in cognitive functioning
  • Significant limitation in adaptive functioning
  • History of these limitations prior to age 18
  • Resident of Toronto

The Service Navigator may ask you for documents  confirming age & proof of residence. This would include but are not limited to a:

birth or baptismal certificate;

passport; or

driver’s licence.


Documents confirming Ontario residency include but are not limited to :

proof of address

rental or lease agreement;

statement of direct deposit for Ontario Disability Support Program;

employer record (pay stub or letter from employer on company letterhead);

mailed bank account statements (does not include automated teller receipts or bank books); or

utility bill.



proof of Canadian citizenship, landed immigrant status or permission to stay by Citizenship and Immigration Canada:


naturalization certificate;

immigration documents;

Minster’s permit


For more information please see the links below: