Understanding Intellectual Disability

Intellectual disability can be defined as disability that affects both- the intellectual functioning as well as adaptive behavior of an individual. While intellectual behavior refers to a person's ability to solve problems, understand or reason, adaptive behavior entails everyday social and practical skills. In most cases, this disability originates before the age of 18.

A type of developmental disability

Sometimes, people confuse intellectual disability to be the same as developmental disability. However, intellectual disability is just one of the many types of developmental disability. Developmental disabilities can be both physical as well as mental. Sometimes, they may be just limited to the physical abilities of a person such as blindness. Intellectual disabilities, on the other hand, cover only cognitive part of developmental disabilities.

As per the American Association of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, there is no identifiable origin of intellectual disabilities. However, there are several factors such as level of child stimulation, adult responsiveness and family & educational support that can contribute to the same.

There are several tests that need to be conducted that can help determine if a person is suffering from intellectual disability. Amidst various other tests, the IQ Test is a major tool in measuring intellectual functioning. If the IQ score is 70 or 75 or lesser, the person could be suffering from some kind of intellectual disability.

Apart from IQ test, several other tests are also conducted to determine the presence of intellectual disabilities. These tests are conducted to determine the limitations in adaptive behavior, if any. These tests basically cover three type of skills- conceptual skills, social skills and practical skills. Depending upon the findings of these tests, a person is said to be suffering from intellectual disability or not.

Difference between intellectual disability and mental retardation
Intellectual disability and mental retardation mean the same thing. They are different terms used for the same thing. However, off late the term 'intellectual disability' has been garnering increased popularity. However, the current federal and state laws contain the term 'mental retardation' instead of intellectual disability. Also, the term 'mental retardation' is used for citizenship and legal status along with civil and criminal justice cases.

Dealing with intellectual disability
Living with a person who is suffering from intellectual disability can be slightly challenging. However, it is not that difficult either. You need to create a systematic learning approach, which will make things simpler. If the person suffering from intellectual disability has problems carrying out day to day tasks, you could find simpler methods of performing the same tasks. With a systematic and simplified approach, dealing with intellectual disability can become a lot simpler.