General

What does Mission Road Ministries do?

Mission Road Ministries is a non-profit organization in San Antonio, Texas, that provides residential and day services to children and adults with intellectual and other developmental disabilities.  On a daily basis, Mission Road Ministries (including The Unicorn, Centers, Inc.) serves more than 795 individuals through the various programs and services.  Mission Road provides a uniquecontinuum of care; Mission Road is not an emergency shelter.  From children as young as three years of age, to adults in their 70's, there is a wide span of programs to serve individuals with developmental disabilities.  Most of the elderly adults have lived in a Mission Road facility for a large portion of their life.

What does The Unicorn Centers, Inc. do?

The Unicorn Centers, Inc. is a non-profit organization in San Antonio, Texas, that provides vocational training, life skills training and employment opportunities for adults with intellectual and other developmental disabilties.  Adults who attend the Unicorn program are referred to as "customers".  Unicorn customers are empowered to achieve their highest potential in the workplace.  About 90 of the Unicorn customers hold a regular job in businesses across San Antonio.  Other Unicorn customers hold a job at the Unicorn's sheltered workshop or through an enclave operation.

How does Mission Road Ministries relate to Mission Road Developmental Center and Unicorn Centers, Inc.?

Mission Road Ministries was created as the umbrella organization for Mission Road Developmental Center and the three Mission Road apartment complexes. In 2001, Mission Road Ministries merged with Unicorn. Mission Road Developmental Center, The Unicorn Centers, Inc. and Meadow Brook Apartments, Murray Manor Apartments and Independence Square Apartments are the five agencies that are part of the Mission Road Ministries' family.

Are Mission Road Ministries and The Unicorn Centers United Way agencies?

Yes.  Mission Road Ministries and The Unicorn Centers, Inc. are both United Way agencies. Mission Road became a United Way agency prior to 1976, when United Way was called "Community Chest". The Unicorn Centers, Inc. became a United Way agency in 1987.

Intellectual Developmental Disability

What is the official AAIDD definition of intellectual developmental disability?

An intellectual developmental disability is a disability characterized by significant limitations both in intellectual functioning and in adaptive behavior as expressed in conceptual, social, and practical adaptive skills. This disability originates before the age of 18. A complete and accurate understanding of intellectual developmental disability involves realizing that this refers to a particular state of functioning that begins in childhood, has many dimensions, and is affected positively by individualized supports. As a model of functioning, it includes the contexts and environment within which the person functions and interacts and requires a multidimensional and ecological approach that reflects the interaction of the individual with the environment, and the outcomes of that interaction with regards to independence, relationships, societal contributions, participation in school and community, and personal well being.

Where can I find detailed information about the AAIDD definition of intellectual developmental disability?

The newly released journals are available on the AIDD Website.

Has AAIDD always had the same definition of intellectual developmental disability?

No. AAIDD has updated the definition multiple times since 1908. Changes in the definition have occurred when there is new information, or there are changes in clinical practice or breakthroughs in scientific research.

What are the causes of an Intellectual Developmental Disability?

The causes of an intellectual developmental disability can be divided into biomedical, social, behavioral, and educational risk factors that interact during the life of an individual and/or across generations from parent to child. Biomedical factors are related to biologic processes, such as genetic disorders or nutrition. Social factors are related to social and family interaction, such as child stimulation and adult responsiveness. Behavioral factors are related to harmful behaviors, such as maternal substance abuse. And educational factors are related to the availability of family and educational supports that promote mental development and increases in adaptive skills. Also, factors present during one generation can influence the outcomes of the next generation. By understanding inter-generational causes, appropriate supports can be used to prevent and reverse the effects of risk factors.

What factors must be considered when determining if a person has an intellectual developmental disabilities and developing an individualized support plan?

When using the AAIDD definition, classification and systems of supports professionals and other team members must:

  1. Evaluate limitations in present functioning within the context of the individual’s age peers and culture;
  2. Take into account the individual’s cultural and linguistic differences as well as communication, sensory, motor, and behavioral factors;
  3. Recognize that within an individual limitations often coexist with strengths;
  4. Describe limitations so that an individualized plan of needed supports can be developed; and
  5. Provide appropriate personalized supports to improve the functioning of a person with an intellectual developmental disability.

What is a disability?

A disability refers to personal limitations that represent a substantial disadvantage when attempting to function in society. A disability should be considered within the context of the environment, personal factors, and the need for individualized supports.

What is Intelligence?


Intelligence refers to a general mental capability. It involves the ability to reason, plan, solve problems, think abstractly, comprehend complex ideas, learn quickly, and learn from experience. Although not perfect, intelligence is represented by Intelligent Quotient (IQ) scores obtained from standardized tests given by a trained professional. An intellectual developmental disabilitiy  is generally thought to be present if an individual has an IQ test score of approximately 70 or below. An obtained IQ score must always be considered in light of its standard error of measurement, appropriateness, and consistency with administration guidelines. Since the standard error of measurement for most IQ tests is approximately 5, the ceiling may go up to 75. This represents a score approximately 2 standard deviations below the mean, considering the standard error of measurement. It is important to remember, however, that an IQ score is only one aspect in determining if a person has mental retardation. Significant limitations in adaptive behavior skills and evidence that the disability was present before age 18 are two additional elements that are critical in determining if a person has an intellectual developmental disability.

What is Adaptive Behavior?

Adaptive behavior is the collection of conceptual, social, and practical skills that people have learned so they can function in their everyday lives. Significant limitations in adaptive behavior impact a person’s daily life and affect the ability to respond to a particular situation or to the environment. Limitations in adaptive behavior can be determined by using standardized tests that are formed on the general population including people with disabilities and people without disabilities. On these standardized measures, significant limitations in adaptive behavior are operationally defined as performance that is at least two standard deviations below the mean of either (a) one of the following three types of adaptive behavior: conceptual, social, or practical, or (b) an overall score on a standardized measure of conceptual, social, and practical skills.

What are some specific examples of Adaptive Behavior Skills?

Conceptual Skills

Receptive and expressive language
Reading and writing
Money concepts
Self-directions

Social Skills

Interpersonal
Responsibility
Self-esteem
Gullibility (likelihood of being tricked or manipulated)
Naiveté
Follows rules
Obeys laws
Avoids victimization

Practical Skills

Personal activities of daily living such as eating, dressing, mobility and toileting. Instrumental activities of daily living such as preparing meals, taking medication, using the telephone, managing money, using transportation and doing housekeeping activities, uccupational skills and maintaining a safe environment.

What are supports?

The concept of supports originated about 15 years ago and it has revolutionized the way habilitation and education services are provided to persons with mental retardation. Rather than mold individuals into pre-existing diagnostic categories and force them into existing models of service, the supports approach evaluates the specific needs of the individual and then suggests strategies, services and supports that will optimize individual functioning. The supports approach also recognizes that individual needs and circumstances will change over time. Supports were an innovative aspect of the 1992 AAIDD manual and they remain critical in the 2002 system. In 2002, they have been dramatically expanded and improved to reflect significant progress over the last decade. Supports are defined as the resources and individual strategies necessary to promote the development, education, interests, and personal well-being of a person with mental retardation. Supports can be provided by a parent, friend, teacher, psychologist, doctor or by any appropriate person or agency.

Why are supports important?

Providing individualized supports can improve personal functioning, promote self-determination and societal inclusion, and improve personal well-being of a person with mental retardation. Focusing on supports as the way to improve education, employment, recreation, and living environments is an important part of person-centered approaches to providing supports to people with mental retardation.

How do you determine what supports are needed?

AAIDD recommends that an individual’s need for supports be analyzed in at least nine key areas such as human development, teaching and education, home living, community living, employment, health and safety, behavior, social, and protection and advocacy.

What are some specific examples of supports areas and supports activities?

Human Development Activities

  • Providing physical development opportunities that include eye-hand coordination, fine motor skills, and gross motor activities
  • Providing cognitive development opportunities such as using words and images to represent the world and reasoning logically about concrete events
  • Providing social and emotional developmental activities to foster trust, autonomy, and initiative

Teaching and Education Activities

  • Interacting with trainers and teachers and fellow trainees and students
  • Participating in making decisions on training and educational activities
  • Learning and using problem-solving strategies
  • Using technology for learning
  • Learning and using functional academics (reading signs, counting change, etc.)
  • Learning and using self-determination skills

Home Living Activities

  • Using the restroom/toilet
  • Laundering and taking care of clothes
  • Preparing and eating food
  • Housekeeping and cleaning
  • Dressing
  • Bathing and taking care of personal hygiene and grooming needs
  • Operating home appliances and technology
  • Participating in leisure activities within the home

Community Living Activities

  • Using transportation
  • Participating in recreation and leisure activities
  • Going to visit friends and family
  • Shopping and purchasing goods
  • Interacting with community members
  • Using public buildings and settings

Employment Activities

  • Learning and using specific job skills
  • Interacting with co-workers
  • Interacting with supervisors
  • Completing work-related tasks with speed and quality
  • Changing job assignments
  • Accessing and obtaining crisis intervention and assistance

Health and Safety Activities

  • Accessing and obtaining therapy services
  • Taking medication
  • Avoiding health and safety hazards
  • Communicating with health care providers
  • Accessing emergency services
  • Maintaining a nutritious diet
  • Maintaining physical health
  • Maintaining mental health/emotional well-being

Behavioral Activities

  • Learning specific skills or behaviors
  • Learning and making appropriate decisions
  • Accessing and obtaining mental health treatments
  • Accessing and obtaining substance abuse treatments
  • Incorporating personal preferences into daily activities
  • Maintaining socially appropriate behavior in public
  • Controlling anger and aggression

Social Activities

  • Socializing within the family
  • Participating in recreation and leisure activities
  • Making appropriate sexual decisions
  • Socializing outside the family
  • Making and keeping friends
  • Communicating with others about personal needs
  • Engaging in loving and intimate relationships
  • Offering assistance and assisting others

Protection and Advocacy Activities

  • Advocating for self and others
  • Managing money and personal finances
  • Protecting self from exploitation
  • Exercising legal rights and responsibilities
  • Belonging to and participating in self-advocacy/support organizations
  • Obtaining legal services
  • Using banks and cashing checks