Intellectual Disability

Intellectual disability (ID), formerly known as mental retardation, is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by limitations in intellectual functioning and adaptive behavior. Individuals with intellectual disability may experience challenges in areas such as communication, self-care, social skills, and academic achievement.

Key Features of Intellectual Disability

  • Intellectual Functioning: Individuals with intellectual disability typically have below-average intellectual functioning, as measured by standardized intelligence tests. This may result in difficulties with problem-solving, abstract reasoning, and learning new information.

  • Adaptive Behavior: Adaptive behavior refers to the practical skills needed to function independently in daily life, such as communication, self-care, social interactions, and safety awareness. Individuals with intellectual disability may have delays or deficits in adaptive skills compared to their peers.

Causes of Intellectual Disability:

  • Genetic conditions (e.g., Down syndrome, Fragile X syndrome)
  • Prenatal exposure to toxins or infections
  • Complications during pregnancy or childbirth
  • Traumatic brain injury or brain abnormalities
  • Environmental factors (e.g., malnutrition, exposure to toxins)

Support and Intervention

  • Early intervention services for infants and young children
  • Individualized education plans (IEPs) in school settings
  • Specialized therapies, such as speech therapy, occupational therapy, and behavioral therapy
  • Vocational training and supported employment programs for adults
  • Community-based support services and residential care options


Intellectual disability is a lifelong condition that affects individuals in various aspects of their lives. With appropriate support, intervention, and opportunities for inclusion, individuals with intellectual disability can lead fulfilling lives and make meaningful contributions to their communities.


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