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What is Intellectual Disability?

intellectual disability

Intellectual disability, also known as intellectual developmental disorder, is a complex condition of deficits in general mental abilities and limitations in adaptive functioning. This condition usually appears at a young age and is diagnosed through a doctor’s assessment and some standardized testing. Generally, more severe cases will become apparent earlier in life.  Parents and doctors usually first notice something is off when these people consistently lag behind their peers in meeting developmental milestones in early childhood.

People with intellectual disability struggle with intellectual functions including reasoning, practical problem-solving, abstract thinking, and judgment. People with intellectual disability typically score in the bottom 2-3% of the general population on intelligence tests. This translates to an IQ range of about 65-75. However, numerous factors influence test scores, including communication, language, motor skills, and sensory functioning. A full assessment often involves a broad examination of each individual’s abilities, which is crucial for academic and vocational planning.

People with intellectual disability also experience difficulties related to social judgment, risk assessment, self-management, and motivation in educational or work environments. Unfortunately, this social gullibility often makes people susceptible to being influenced by others, exploited, and victimized. People are also at increased risk for co-occurring mental disorders, including suicidal thoughts and attempts.

Types of Developmental Disorders

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