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WHAT IS AN INTELLECTUAL DISABILITY?

Intellectual disability is the most common developmental disability which results in poor intellectual functioning (like learning, judgement, problem solving and communication) and adaptive behaviour (like social skills, everyday routines, hygiene).


This disability affects around one percent of the population and is a result of a brain that hasn’t developed properly or has undergone an injury. 85% of those people who have Intellectual Disability (ID) usually have mild intellectual disability.


Intellectual disability was previously termed as mental retardation which is no longer used.


ID reduces the ability to understand new/complex information and to learn and apply them. Therefore this further affects the ability to cope which makes them dependent which affects their further development. Adaptive functions can be divided into:



  1. Conceptual: problems in reading, language, writing, math, memory, reasoning and knowledge

  2. Social: empathy towards others feelings and thoughts, communication, social judgements, following rules

  3. Practical: personal hygiene, organizations of tasks, recreation, personal care, jobs responsibilities

Adaptive functioning is measured through standardized steps with individuals and interviews with family members, teachers and caregivers.



TYPES AND SYMPTOMS


There are 4 levels of varying IDs :



1. Mild intellectual disability


  • Taking longer to talk

  • Self independent when older for personal care

  • Immature

  • Problems reading and writing

  • Difficulty with social responsibilities

  • Having an 1Q range from 50-69

2. Moderate intellectual disability


  • Difficulty in communicating

  • Know basic reading, writing and counting

  • Usually unable to live alone

  • Slow with language

  • Can make their way to known familiar places

  • Can partake in social activities

  • Having an 1Q range from 35-49

3. Severe intellectual disability


  • Motor impairment

  • Abnormal development or several damage to the Central Nervous System of the brain

  • Having an 1Q range from 20-34

4. Profound intellectual disability


  • Immobility

  • Inability to process or follow instructions

  • Dependent on others for their own needs

  • Help, supervision required constantly

  • Basic, non verbal communication

  • Having an 1Q range which is less than 20

There is a category of ID called the other intellectual disability where people are physically impaired with hearing/ vision loss and are non verbal.


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CAUSES


  • Maternal undernutrition

  • Exposure of mother to drugs alcohol during pregnancy

  • Biological factors, genes, inheritance, down syndrome

  • lead/mercury poisoning

  • Abnormal brain development/ brain injury

  • Insufficient oxygen during birth (hypoxia)

  • Brain infections

  • Severe emotional abuse


DIAGNOSIS AND TREATMENT



This would include:


  • Interviews

  • Developmental screening

  • Standardized tests-imagining tests, genetics/lab tests, formal intellectual and skills testing

  • Prenatal screening

  • Seeing specialists: psychologist, speech pathologist, pediatric neurologist, developmental pediatrician and physical therapist

  • Therapies like behaviour therapy, speech therapy, occupational therapy, medication and counselling can be taken up.

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