Intellectual Disability

Intellectual Disability is a new term for what used to be called Mental Retardation. It manifests before the age of 18 years. It is identified by how a person does on tests to measure his/her intelligence and his/her adaptive skills.

Intelligence involves the ability to reason, plan, solve problems, think abstractly, comprehend complex ideas, learn quickly and learn from experience. Intelligence is measured by special tests called intelligence tests. These tests provide a numerical score after measuring the person’s general mental capability with reference to their age. This score is called intelligence quotient or IQ. In general, a person with an IQ test score of about 70 or below is indicative of Intellectual Disability.[1]

Intellectual Disability impacts adaptive skills, these refer to how well a person can deal with the tasks of everyday life. These include the ability to speak and understand; self-management skills (dress, bathe, feed or otherwise care for themselves, manage job responsibilities, manage money); use of community resources; leisure, self-care, and social skills (empathy, social judgement, inter-personal communication, ability to make and retain friendships); self-direction; basic academic skills (reading, writing, and arithmetic); and work skills.

A child is only considered to have Intellectual Disability if he/she displays deficits in both IQ and adaptive behaviour. He/she is not considered to have Intellectual Disability if only one of the two is present.

Recognising Intellectual Disability

Diagnosing Intellectual Disability

Living with Intellectual Disability

Frequently Asked Questions

Acknowledgement and References