Intellectual disability (ID), also known as general learning disability, is a generalized neurodevelopmental disorder. In the past, the condition used to be known as mental retardation (MR). Greatly impaired intellectual and adaptive functioning are the main characteristics of ID. An IQ score below 70, along with a deficiency in two or more adaptive behaviors, otherwise known as everyday skills or tasks that the average person is able to complete.
About 2 to 3% of the general population is intellectually disabled, with most of them exhibiting milder forms of ID. It may also be noted that people with ID tend to experience poorer health in comparison to able-bodied people. Diabetes, epilepsy, and gastrointestinal disorders are the major health concerns for people with ID. Intellectual disability is a disorder, and should not be confused with mental illness such as schizophrenia and depression.
The signs are all behavioral and the stereotypical depiction of appearance of people with ID is true in only rare cases. Majority look normal, if the disability is a result of environmental factors such as lack of nutrition or lead poisoning. Kids with ID may learn to sit up, to walk or to talk later than the children without the disability. Following are some of the typical characteristics shown by people with ID. (Source: Wikipedia).
Genetic conditions, complications during pregnancy, a difficult child birth resulting in brain damage caused by lack of oxygen supply to brain, exposure to toxic metals such as lead and mercury, iodine deficiency, insufficient medical care for measles and meningitis are some of the major causes. Malnutrition is the single important factor causing ID. It has also been established that consumption of alcohol and tobacco during pregnancy is also a major contributing factor.
The rate of learning in children with intellectual disability is slower than that of normal children. Depending on the level of disability, they can lead a fairly independent life with active support from parents, family, and community. The key is to identify the condition early so that the rehabilitation program can start early for better and more manageable outcomes.
The aim of the article is to be informative in a general way. Al
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