Intellectual Disabilities:

Information and Resources

Intellectual disability is a condition that is usually diagnosed in childhood. These conditions tend to be lifelong. They often involve below-average intellectual function, as well as difficulty in performing daily living skills. People with intellectual disabilities can learn and perform new skills but may require a longer time to master these skills. There are different degrees of intellectual disability, from mild to profound. In the past, this condition was called mental retardation. However, this term is no longer in use.

Intellectual disabilities are also one of many developmental disabilities. Developmental disabilities can be cognitive, physical or both. An intellectual disability is focused on the cognitive aspect. In reality, most intellectual disabilities are also accompanied by a physical disability. This is the case with fetal alcohol syndrome, for example.

Intellectual disabilities impact 1 to 3 percent of the population. There are several possible causes of intellectual disability, but the chance of discovering the specific cause is only 25 percent. These risk factors include:

  • Infections: present at birth or after birth. 
  • Chromosomal abnormalities: for example, Down syndrome.
  • Environmental factors.
  • Metabolic: for example, severe hyperbilirubinemia (or jaundice) at birth.
  • Nutritional: severe malnutrition can lead to intellectual disabilities.
  • Toxins: exposure to alcohol and illegal substances while a child is in the womb. 
  • Trauma: occurring before and after birth.

 

Symptoms of Intellectual Disabilities

The following symptoms may indicate the presence of intellectual disability:

  • Lack (or slow development) of motor, language, and self-help skills (compared to others).
  • Failure to mature intellectually and maintaining infant-like mannerisms.
  • Lack of curiosity.
  • Difficulty remembering things.
  • Difficulty keeping up with cohorts at school. 
  • Inability to adapt to new situations.
  • Difficulty understanding and complying with social rules. 

These symptoms can range from mild to severe.  

Diagnosing Intellectual Disabilities

There are several developmental tests that can be used to assess the presence of intellectual disability:

  • Abnormal Denver developmental screening test
  • Adaptive Behavior score below average
  • Development below that of peers
  • Intelligence quotient (IQ) score below 70 on a standardized IQ test

Symptoms of Intellectual Disabilities

The following symptoms may indicate the presence of intellectual disability:

  • Lack (or slow development) of motor, language, and self-help skills (compared to others).
  • Failure to mature intellectually and maintaining infant-like mannerisms.
  • Lack of curiosity.
  • Difficulty remembering things.
  • Difficulty keeping up with cohorts at school. 
  • Inability to adapt to new situations.
  • Difficulty understanding and complying with social rules. 

These symptoms can range from mild to severe.  

Diagnosing Intellectual Disabilities

There are several developmental tests that can be used to assess the presence of intellectual disability:

  • Abnormal Denver developmental screening test
  • Adaptive Behavior score below average
  • Development below that of peers
  • Intelligence quotient (IQ) score below 70 on a standardized IQ test

Treating Intellectual Disabilities

There’s no cure for intellectual disability. Rather, treatment is focused on helping the person develop valuable life skills to operate in society. Special education programs are often needed and they have a better impact the earlier they begin. 

It’s important that a specialist evaluate a person for other physical and mental disabilities. Behavioral counseling may also prove beneficial for persons with intellectual disabilities. 

Intellectual Disabilities Prognosis

The outcome of intellectual disabilities is dependent on a few factors such as:

  • Severity and cause of intellectual disability.
  • Treatment and therapies employed and when they started.
  • The existence of other disabilities. 

Many people with intellectual disabilities live productive, independent lives. For other people, they may need to live in a structured, supported-living environment. 

Intellectual Disabilities Prognosis

The outcome of intellectual disabilities is dependent on a few factors such as:

  • Severity and cause of intellectual disability.
  • Treatment and therapies employed and when they started.
  • The existence of other disabilities. 

Many people with intellectual disabilities live productive, independent lives. For other people, they may need to live in a structured, supported-living environment. 

Accessing Healthcare

for Intellectual Disabilities

If you discover that you or someone you know, has one or more of these symptoms, please contact us. At Family Neurology, we can diagnose such disabilities and create an appropriate treatment plan. Contact us today for an initial consultation.

Intellectual Disabilities Resources

Organizations

American Association of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (AAIDD)

This is a non-profit professional organization. It focuses on intellectual disability and related developmental disabilities. It promotes progressive policies, sound research, effective practices and universal human rights for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

National Association for Down Syndrome

This is an association that consists of parents of children with Down syndrome. It serves to develop the life skills of these persons, increase their acceptance into society and working towards their independence.

The Arc

An organization committed to the promotion and protection of the human rights of people with developmental and intellectual disabilities. It also actively supports their full inclusion and participation in the community.

Intellectual Disabilities Resources

Organizations

American Association of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (AAIDD)

This is a non-profit professional organization. It focuses on intellectual disability and related developmental disabilities. It promotes progressive policies, sound research, effective practices and universal human rights for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

National Association for Down Syndrome

This is an association that consists of parents of children with Down syndrome. It serves to develop the life skills of these persons, increase their acceptance into society and working towards their independence.

The Arc

An organization committed to the promotion and protection of the human rights of people with developmental and intellectual disabilities. It also actively supports their full inclusion and participation in the community.

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