Persons are eligible for Special Olympics provided they are:

Persons age eight* and above who are considered to have an intellectual disability as determined by their localities.

Persons who have closely related developmental disabilities** such as those who have functional limitations, both in general learning and in adaptive skills such as recreation, work, independent living, self-direction, or self-care.

Note: people with functional limitations based solely on a physical, behavioral, emotional, specific learning disability, or sensory disability are not eligible.

General Learning Limitations refers to substantial deficits in conceptual, practical, and social intelligence that will result in performance problems in academic learning and/or general life functioning. Learning limitations may be assessed by standardized test (e.g., intelligence or achievement tests) or through criterion-referenced measures (e.g., teacher/parent observations or actual performance samples).

Adaptive Skill Limitations refers to on-going performance deficits in skill areas considered essential to successful life functioning. These adaptive skill areas include: communication, self-care, home-living, social skills, community use, self-direction, health and safety, functional academics, recreation/leisure, and work. Adaptive skills limitations may be measured by standardized tests (e.g., adaptive behavior scales or checklists) or through criterion-referenced measures (e.g., teacher/parent observations or actual performance samples).

If the person is identified as having a developmental disability with functional limitations in both general learning and adaptive skills, it must still be determined by an agency or a professional whether or not the functional limitations are solely due to an intellectual disability or a closely related developmental disability. If the functional limitations are solely due to: physical disabilities, emotional disturbance, behavior disorders, specific learning disabilities, visual impairments, or sensory disabilities, this person is not eligible for Special Olympics.

To ensure the safety of our athletes and volunteers, the Special Olympics Missouri Board of Directors adopted on April 28, 2007, the  “Athlete and Volunteer Policy and Missouri’s Registration of Sex Offenders."

* An Accredited Program may permit children who are at least six (6) years of age to participate in age-appropriate Special Olympics training programs offered by that Accredited Program, or in specific (and age-appropriate) cultural or social activities offered during the course of a Special Olympics event. Such children may be recognized for their participation in such training or other non-competition activities through certificates of participation, or through other types of recognition approved by SOI which are not associated with participation in Special Olympics competition. However, no child may participate in a Special Olympics competition (or be awarded medals or ribbons associated with competition) before his or her eighth birthday.

** When the term "intellectual disability" or other similar descriptor is not used to identify the person in a local area, eligibility should be determined by whether or not the person has functional limitations in both general learning and adaptive skills. "Developmental disability" is the term most often used to describe persons with both limitations. Other terms that may be used synonymously with developmental disability are developmental handicap, developmentally delayed, or severe disabilities.