Intellectual disability (ID)
Intellectual disability (ID) is a diagnosis given when an individual has problems both in intellectual functioning (i.e., ability to learn, reason, make decisions, and solve problems) and adaptive functioning (i.e., the ability to function in everyday activities).
Typically diagnosed before the age of 18, an individual with ID may have problems speaking, reading, eating, taking care of themselves, or interacting appropriately with others. People with ID can and do learn new skills, but they learn them more slowly.
Severity of ID
ID has different severity levels based on adaptive functioning in the conceptual, social, and practical domains.
- Conceptual: language, reading, writing, math, reasoning, knowledge, memory
- Social: empathy, social judgment, communication skills, the ability to follow the rules and the ability to make and keep friendships
- Practical: independence in areas such as personal care, job responsibilities, managing money, recreation and organizing school and work tasks
|Conceptual Domain||Social Domain||Practical Domain|
However, an extended period of teaching and time is needed for the individual to become independent in these areas, and reminders may be needed.
Causes of ID
Anytime something interferes with normal brain development, intellectual disability can result. However, a specific cause for intellectual disability can only be pinpointed about a third of the time.
The most common causes of intellectual disability are:
- Genetic conditions.
- Problems during pregnancy.
- Problems during childbirth.
- Illness or injury. Infections can lead to intellectual disability.
Treatment for ID
Persons with intellectual disabilities can benefit from therapy and early intervention. Treatment includes the judicious use of medicines, behavioural therapy, and occupational therapy. The treatment plans usually investigate addressing sensory issues, improving communication skills, advising on environmental manipulation, changing maladaptive behaviour, and optimizing functional capabilities.
Those who require child or adult care services may consider inclusive preschools, special student care centres, or centre-based, residential, and home care services. Children with intellectual disabilities can also enrol in either SPED schools or mainstream schools, depending on their individual needs.
Adults with intellectual disabilities can participate in programmes to prepare them for working life. There are training and skills-upgrading programmes to help those with disabilities secure jobs.
What can I do to help my intellectually disabled child?
Steps to help your intellectually disabled child include:
- Learn everything you can about intellectual disabilities. The more you know, the better advocate you can be for your child.
- Encourage your child’s independence. Let your child try new things and encourage your child to do things by themselves. Provide guidance when needed and give positive feedback when your child does something well or masters something new.
- Get your child involved in group activities. Taking an art class or participating in other group activities will help your child build social skills.
- Stay involved. By keeping in touch with your child’s teachers, you’ll be able to follow their progress and reinforce what your child is learning at school through practice at home.
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