Intellectual Disability



What is Intellectual Disability?
Intellectual Disability (previously referred to as “mental retardation”) is a developmental condition that is characterized by significant limitations in an individual’s intellectual functioning (a person’s ability to learn, reason, and problem solve) and an individual’s adaptive behavior (person’s conceptual, social, and practical skills that are performed daily). Intellectual disability originates before the age of 18 and generally can be discovered early on in a child’s development.

Levels of Intellectual Disability

  • Mild
  • Moderate
  • Severe
  • Profound

Some Causes of Intellectual Disability

There are many predisposing factors that may cause intellectual disability. Factors may include genetics, environmental influences, pregnancy and perinatal problems, or general medical conditions acquired in infancy and/or childhood.

Measure of Prevention

Although intellectual disabilities are developmental conditions, some cases of intellectual disability can be prevented. Here are some preventative measures:

  • Good prenatal and postnatal care for mothers and infants
  • Proper nutrition for pregnant women and infants
  • Avoiding the use of drugs and alcohol during pregnancy
  • Newborn screening for Hypothyroidism and PKU
  • Routine screening and immunizations of mothers for Rh blood factor
  • Use of proper child safety measure such as car seats and seat belts to prevent head injuries
  • Screening for lead poisoning for children under the age of 5

Intervention and Treatment

Although Intellectual Disability is a chronic developmental condition, there are many different levels of intervention:

  • Early Intervention: For children 0-3 years of age who are high risk or have conditions that may lead to a developmental disability, services include occupational therapy, physical therapy, speech therapy, respite care, and specialized child developmental programs.
  • Education: School districts are required to provide educational services to persons with an Intellectual Disability from ages 3 – 21. School districts will provide an Individual Education Plan (IEP) for persons with disabilities that require modifications to the learning process. Additionally, some institutions provide other conjoint services including adaptive physical education, occupational/physical/speech therapies, and behavioral support. Transitional services may include post-secondary education, vocational training, integrated employment, adult education, and independent living services.
  • Adult Services: Some of the services available to adult consumers funded by the Regional Center are residential placement, supported living programs, vocational training, independent living skills training, educational programs, mobility training, and social-recreational programs.
  • Supported Services: May include respite care, behavior intervention, social skills training, counseling services, and support groups for parents and siblings.
  • Medication: Some consumers with an Intellectual Disability develop socio-emotional issues such as depression, anxiety, or aggression. In these cases, individuals may benefit from psychiatric medication to address these mental health issues that may impair his/her daily functioning.

Addressing the Needs of Consumers

  • We provide training and assistance to consumers in a manner and pace that benefits the client.
  • We may use visual aids as an alternative instructional method.
  • We break down tasks to its simplest form and assist the consumer withbeing able to perform a task step-by-step.
  • We may also model specific skills or tasks to allow consumers the opportunity to see a task performed correctly. We would then allow the consumer to enact the steps modeled by the staff.

We would instruct consumers to utilize their five sense in order to be aware of his/her surroundings.