Office of Disability Prevention for Children

What Does ODPC do to Help?

ODPC works to prevent disabilities through:

  • Provider and public education
  • Promotion of public policy
  • Educating the public
  • Working with other state agencies, community groups and various other stakeholders
  • Developing long-term plans to monitor and reduce the incidence and severity of developmental disabilities
  • Evaluating state efforts to prevent developmental disabilities

Areas of Focus

ODPC focuses on preventing disabilities in children from the time of conception to the age of 12. ODPC has selected five areas of focus through collaboration with stakeholders and other HHS programs, data analysis, and review of existing research. The areas of focus address aspects of all levels of disability prevention.

Preventing Disabilities Caused by Prenatal Alcohol or Substance Exposure

Prenatal exposure to alcohol, tobacco and other substances can cause birth defects and permanent intellectual or developmental disabilities. Although all of these substances are harmful to a developing fetus, alcohol has the strongest influence.
Learn more about prenatal substance exposure on the ODPC Prenatal Alcohol and Substance Exposure page.

Preventing Disabilities Caused by Maternal Health Issues During Pregnancy

A mother’s health before and during pregnancy has a big impact on how her baby develops neurologically and physiologically. A mother’s nutrition, exposure to toxins, or infections all have the potential to cause birth defects and permanent intellectual or developmental disabilities. Proper pre-conception and prenatal care can help a mother maintain a healthy pregnancy, ultimately helping her baby’s development.

Learn more about what can cause birth defects and intellectual or developmental disabilities during pregnancy on ODPC’s Healthy Pregnancy page.

Preventing Acquired Brain Injury in Children

An acquired brain injury is brain damage caused by events after birth, rather than as part of a genetic or congenital disorder. These include strokes, brain illness and other brain injuries. They differ from degenerative brain conditions, such as Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease.

All types of brain injury are serious and can be life altering. Recovery often looks identical between different types of brain injury. Although there is no complete cure, many people recover and regain much of their abilities through therapy and treatment, or they adapt to and cope with their new limitations. The good news is that almost all brain injuries are preventable. Learn more by visiting ODPC’s Brain Injury page.

Early Identification and Diagnosis of Disabilities to Ensure Early Intervention and Services

Early intervention can make a huge difference in the lives of children who are at-risk for or who have been diagnosed with a developmental disability. Connecting children with services early on can build the foundation they need to develop their cognitive, behavioral and physical skills as they grow. Early intervention can also dramatically reduce the cost of services later in a child’s life.
However, early intervention is not possible without early identification. Families and medical providers have a huge role in tracking the development of a child to determine if they are falling behind. Similarly, it is important to identify and diagnose brain injury as soon as possible as it can both save lives and improve outcomes.

Learn more about monitoring developmental milestones, identifying developmental delays, and the signs and symptoms of brain injury on the ODPC Early Identification and Diagnosis page.

Promoting Mental Health Wellness for Individuals with an Intellectual or Developmental Disability

When a person has both a developmental disability and a mental health condition, it’s called co-occurring disorders or dual diagnoses. The co-occurrence of mental health conditions or substance use affects at least one third of people with an intellectual or developmental disability. Unfortunately, mental health resources for individuals with IDD are limited and confusing, many providers lack the training they need to provide services, and there is a lack of awareness of the issue.
Depression, anxiety, schizophrenia or post-traumatic stress disorder are often diagnosed in people with IDD. Symptoms can be improved with access to quality behavioral health services, trauma-informed care and opportunities for recovery. Health care providers can also work to avoid unnecessary hospitalizations or incarcerations.

Learn more about co-occurring mental health conditions and IDD and related resources on the ODPC Mental Health and Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities page.

How Can I Get Involved?

ODPC hosts stakeholder meetings in Austin. You can also call into the meetings. You’ll have a chance to visit with professionals, advocates and families to join the conversation and share your vision for disability prevention in Texas.

Email us at to join our distribution list to receive updates about future stakeholder meetings.