Your donation enables people with differing abilities to live in the community according to their wishes.


Your donation can provide the support necessary for people with differing abilities to find jobs.


Your donation helps children and adults with differing abilities enjoy supported recreational opportunities.

Who We Help

More than 1,900 people with differing abilities in the greater Washington, DC area work, live and play in the community according to their individual preferences with support from Melwood.

Our jobs and services are not limited to people with any one type of disability. In fact, Melwood serves individuals who collectively have differing abilities.

Neurological - More than 4 percent of people served by Melwood have neurological disabilities, in which the capacity of the nervous system, including the brain, can limit or inhibit areas such as a person’s memory, cognitive functioning, motor skills, communication and organizational skills, among others. Examples of neurological disabilities include cerebral palsy, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy, Tourette syndrome, learning disabilities, dementia and traumatic brain injuries.[1]

Developmental - More than half (58%) of people served by Melwood have developmental disabilities, defined as severe chronic disabilities that can be cognitive or physical, or both. These types of disability originate before age 22, and are likely to be lifelong. Examples include intellectual disability, Asperger syndrome, autism, Down syndrome, Prader-Willi syndrome, Rett syndrome, Williams syndrome, and Fragile X syndrome.[2]

Sensory - A small but growing number of people served by Melwood have sensory disabilities, which are defined as “any of the long-lasting conditions such as blindness, deafness, or a severe vision or hearing impairment.”[3]

Physical - A small but growing number of people served by Melwood have physical disabilities, which can include a number of subcategories such as mobility or physical impairments, spinal cord injuries, head and brain injuries. These can be present at birth or acquired later in life.[4]

Mental Health/Other - A growing number of people served by Melwood, currently 3%, have mental health or other conditions, defined as medical conditions that disrupt one’s thinking, feeling, mood, ability to relate to others and daily functioning, and that often result in a diminished ability to cope with life’s everyday demands. Mental health conditions are treatable with medical and psychosocial care.[5]

No Disability - 30 percent of people served by Melwood have no disability. These individuals attend Melwood’s inclusive summer camp, which brings together children with and without disabilities in equal numbers for a great camp experience in which they feel valued, accepted, challenged, part of a larger whole, and can appreciate one another’s unique talents and abilities.

[1] "Disability Definitions and Related Links - Special Education." Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. Web. 19 Oct. 2011. <>.

[2] "FAQ on Intellectual Disability." AAIDD. Web. 19 Oct. 2011. <>.

[3] “2007 Disability Status Report.” Cornell University Rehabilitation Research and Training Center on Disability Demographics and Statistics. Web. 19 Oct. 2011. <>

[4] "Definition of Disabilities." Disability News, Information and Resources - Disabled World. Web. 19 Oct. 2011. <>.

[5] "NAMI | About Mental Illness." NAMI: National Alliance on Mental Illness - Mental Health Support, Education and Advocacy. Web. 19 Oct. 2011. <>.