Intellectual disability can be defined as lower than average mental ability. A person with an intellectual disability can learn new skills, but it usually takes longer to learn them.
The most common causes of intellectual disabilities are:
- Genetic conditions – Which can be caused by inheriting abnormal genes from the parents or simply by an error when the genes combine.
- Pregnancy problems – If the baby doesn’t develop properly during pregnancy it might cause intellectual disability.
- Problems at birth – If the baby gets any problem at birth that results in not getting enough oxygen, that might result in intellectual disability too.
Most common Intellectual disability signs on children:
- crawl, sit up or learn to walk later than other children
- if the children find it hard to remember things
- start talking much later than most children or have some problems when speaking
- if the child has trouble seeing the consequences of his actions
- if it has problems in thinking logically or solving problems
Intellectual disabilities are diagnosed by evaluating the ability of a person to learn, solve problems and to think (which is called intellectual functioning or IQ) and by evaluating the adaptive behavior which shows if the person has the skills to live independently.
The IQ is usually measured with a test. The average IQ score is 100. People with IQ lower than 75 are considered to have an intellectual disability.
Children with intellectual disability can learn and even do well in school. But it might be necessary for them to get special education and individualized help. The level of support and help needed depends on the degree of intellectual disability.
It is important for these children to be integrated and to make progress on school just like any other children.
Since the intellectual disability slows down the learning process, it’s usually important that these children get an extra support in the classroom. In terms of support, this might even include improving or adapting accommodations to the needs of the student.
Most children with intellectual disabilities will also need some help on the adaptive skills. The adaptive skills are the skills necessary to work, play and live in the society. These children will need support in learning some of the most elementary things like tying their shoes and brushing their teeth.
But the most important thing to keep an eye on is they do learn and improve their adaptive skills. Depending on the level of Intellectual Disability the children can take much more time to learn a new skill but with the proper help from teachers and the parents, it’s possible to help them get much more skills than we thought it would be possible just some decades ago.
Here are the most important adaptive skills that children need to learn:
- communicate with others
- personal needs (as for example bathing, dressing or going to the bathroom)
- home duties (for example helping set the table or helping cleaning the house)
- social skills (understanding the rules of conversation and being able to get along in a group or play a game with other children)
- education (reading, writing, and mathematics).
Types of intellectual disabilities
- Fragile X syndrome (FXS)
- Down syndrome
- Developmental delay
- Prader-Willi Syndrome
- Fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD)