Intellectual disability is the most common developmental disability. Until Rosa’s Law was signed into law by President Obama in October 2010, The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) used the term “mental retardation” or “cognitive disability” instead of “intellectual disability.” Rosa’s Law changed the future term to be “intellectual disability.” IDEA is a law ensuring services to children with disabilities throughout the nation. Intellectual disability is a term used when a person has particular limitations in mental functioning and in skills such as communicating, self-care, and social skills. These limitations cause a child to learn and develop more slowly than a typical child.
There are many causes of intellectual disabilities. The most common are:
- Genetic conditions. Sometimes an intellectual disability is caused by abnormal genes inherited from parents, errors when genes combine, or other reasons. Examples of genetic conditions are Down syndrome, fragile X syndrome, and phenylketonuria (PKU).
- Developmental problems during pregnancy. An intellectual disability can result when the fetus does not develop inside the mother properly. For example, there may be a problem with the way the baby’s cells divide as it grows. A woman who drinks alcohol or parents who use drugs may have a baby with an intellectual disability. Also infections like rubella during pregnancy can result in an intellectual disability.
- Problems at birth. If a infant has problems during labor and birth, such as not getting enough oxygen, he or she may have an intellectual disability. These problems can include medications given during labor, sudden and or prolonged maternal blood loss or blood pressure changes as in pre-eclampsia, compressed or strangled umbilical cord and so forth.
- Health problems. Early childhood diseases like whooping cough, measles, or meningitis can cause intellectual disabilities. They can also be caused by being exposed to poisons like lead or mercury.
Signs of intellectual disability may include more than one of the following situations in young children:
- sit up, crawl, or walk later than other children;
- learn to talk later, or have trouble speaking.
- find it hard to remember things,
- not understand how to pay for things,
- have trouble understanding social rules,
- have trouble seeing the consequences of their actions,
- have trouble solving problems, and/or
- have trouble thinking logically.
All aspects of intellectual disability present educational challenges and life planning issues that must be addressed with respect and compassion for those individuals and families that must deal with them on a daily basis. The Arc of the United States is an excellent resource available in all fifty states to obtain information and assistance in caring for individuals with intellectual disabilities. Find a local chapter near you at: http://www.thearc.org/page.aspx?pid=2437 800.433.5255 | email@example.com |