DDSO is one of the most respected non-profit organizations in the Sacramento and San Joaquin regions, providing a diverse range of services for adults with developmental disabilities. Established in 1975 during a time when society's common response to those with developmental disabilities was one of disregard, Mary Short, wife of California Senator Alan Short, started a program that was the first of its kind in the nation. The Alan Short Center (ASC) utilized visual and performing arts as a tool for teaching people with developmental disabilities. DDSO has since grown to operate 5-day programs located at three different sites.
In addition, the organization operates a bookstore in the California State Capitol and has a repertory company and is involved in other special projects. DDSO was incorporated as a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit corporation with the support and conviction of parents of children with disabilities who expected more from their children and society.
Their innovative philosophy embraced the concept that, with adequate support, individuals could move beyond their handicaps to make appropriate lifestyle choices; develop communication, living, and working skills; and explore avenues of artistic expression. They believed that, through full participation in life, and positive interactions with the community at-large, individuals with disabilities could realize their personal potential meeting their own expectations and those of loved ones.
Today, there is wide recognition that adults, regardless of disabilities, have diverse ideas about where they want to go, how they want to spend their time, and with whom they want to interact. Many of DDSO's participants are, or hope to be gainfully employed doing meaningful work, live in a home where they can make their own life choices, contribute to society through volunteering, and impact the world through visual and performing arts. DDSO's programs strive daily to help individuals achieve their dreams.