Glossary of Terms

L’Arche Boston North serves people with intellectual disabilities. Below is a list of terms of some of the disabilities that we currently have in community, but are not limited to those that fall under the general category of Intellectual disability.

Autism Spectrum
Autism Spectrum disorder is a serious neurodevelopmental disorder that impairs a person’s ability to communicate and interact with others. It also includes restricted repetitive behaviors, interests and activities. (from

Down Syndrome
Down syndrome is a congenital disorder arising from a chromosome defect, causing intellectual impairment and physical abnormalities including short stature and a broad facial profile. It arises from a defect involving chromosome 21, usually an extra copy.

Williams Syndrome
Williams syndrome is a developmental disorder that affects many parts of the body. This condition is characterized by mild to moderate intellectual disability or learning problems, unique personality characteristics, distinctive facial features, and heart and blood vessel (cardiovascular) problems. (from

Intellectual Disability
Intellectual disability is a disability characterized by significant limitations in both intellectual functioning and in adaptive behavior, which covers many everyday social and practical skills. This disability originates before the age of 18. (from

Learning Disability
A learning disability is a condition giving rise to difficulties in acquiring knowledge and skills to the level expected of those of the same age, especially when not associated with a physical handicap.

Pervasive Developmental Disability (PDD)
The term “pervasive developmental disorders,” also called PDDs, refers to a group of conditions that involve delays in the development of many basic skills. Most notable among them are the ability to socialize with others, to communicate, and to use imagination. (from

Group Homes
A group home is a home where a small number of unrelated people in need of care, support, or supervision can live together.

Community Living
Community living is a small, localized community of persons pursuing common interests or values, and usually sharing responsibilities.

Life Sharing
Life Sharing means living with and sharing all of life’s experiences together and forming a supportive and caring relationship.

Shared Living
Shared living is an arrangement in which an individual, and a person with a disability choose to live together and share life’s experiences. The approach is based on a mutual relationship where both parties agree to share their lives.

Human Services
The field of Human Services is a broadly defined one, uniquely approaching the objective of meeting human needs through an interdisciplinary knowledge base, focusing on prevention as well as remediation of problems and maintaining a commitment to improving the overall quality of life of service populations.

Residential Services
Residential care refers to long-term care given to adults who stay in a residential setting rather than in their own home or family home.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Referrals for L’Arche Boston North residential services come from family members and advocates, school systems and the Massachusetts Department of Developmental Services (DDS) Funding for these services comes from contracts with DDS, private payers and charitable donations.