Intellectual Disability: Symptoms, Causes And Prevention

What causes intellectual disability?

Intellectual Disability

Intellectual disability (ID) or Intellectual Developmental Disorder (DID formerly known as mental retardation, is a mental disability that is characterized by limitations in intellectual functioning and adaptive behavior. This disorder begins evident during an early stage of development.

Intellectual functioning refers to the overall mental ability of a person such as learning, problem-solving, reasoning, etc. The common way of assessing intellectual functioning is through IQ test. A person with an IQ score between 70 and 75 is normally perceived as mentally challenged.

Adaptive behavior, on the other hand, pertains to practical skills that a person uses every day. It involves the use of language (both oral and written communication), number concepts, and the ability to make decisions.

Social skills are the ability to relate to social interactions, follow societal and legal rules, take responsibilities, etc.

Practical skills are skills that are necessary to fully live life. This involves taking care of personal necessities, the ability to attend to own spending, fulfill daily routines, etc.

Diagnosis of Intellectual Disability

The intellectual disability (Intellectual Development Disorder) is a disorder that begins during the developmental period that includes intellectual and adaptive functioning challenges. The DSM 5 sets the three main criteria in assessing intellectual disability:

  • Deficits in intellectual functioning such as reasoning, problem-solving, abstract thinking, academic learning, and the inability to learn from own experience.
  • Deficits in adaptive functioning that causes failure in meeting social norms and social responsibility.
  • Intellectual disability and adaptive behavior begin during the developmental period.

Approximately, there are six persons suffer from this disorder in every one thousand.

Symptoms of Intellectual Disability Among Children

Since intellectual disability begins at an early stage of development, signs of this disorder become evident during childhood. Some of the signs involve:

  • Learning to roll, walk, crawl and sit late
  • Learn to talk late
  • Difficulty in learning to feed himself or herself
  • Inability to remember things
  • Inability to learn from behavioral consequences
  • Show behavioral problems
  • Inability to solve problem and process logical thinking

Causes of Intellectual Disability

There are many contributing factors to the development of intellectual disability. Problems during pregnancy can cause ID. For instance, drinking alcohol and drug use during pregnancy is detrimental to a child’s brain development that may result in deterioration in the cognitive process.

A problem during childbirth is also believed as a contributing factor on intellectual disability. Insufficient supply of oxygen to a newborn baby can cause ID.

However, in most cases, the cause of intellectual disability is unknown. But avoiding the factors mentioned can help prevent the development of this disorder.

How to help intellectually disabled people?

Of course, you can always help people with mental disability by;

  • Learn the nature of the disorder and the related behaviors.
  • Understand their situation and capabilities.
  • Encourage them to be independent.
  • Let them try new things on their own.
  • Avoid any form of criticisms.
  • Let them involved in social interactions.
  • Engage them with fellow intellectually disabled people.

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