Intellectual Disabilities and Their Causes

An intellectual disability is a condition that limits both a person’s ability to intellectually function and use adaptive behaviour. This means that an individual’s capability of learning, using reasoning and being able to use problem solving is severely limited. Plus, social and practical skills that go along with being able to adapt one’s behaviour to situations, is also impaired. An intellectual disability is the term used to describe disabilities that directly affect the cognitive ability of an individual.  Often intellectual disabilities will go hand-in-hand with developmental disabilities, which can be chronic conditions that affect both the cognitive and physical functions of a person.

How is an Intellectual Disability Determined?

In order for a person to be properly diagnosed with an intellectual disability, they need to be tested for specific limitations that affect their intellectual functions and their adaptive behaviour. Plus, the disability needs to be diagnosed or appear before the age of eighteen. In diagnosing an individual, an IQ test will be used to measure their intellectual functions which can include their capacity to: learn, reason, and problem solve. However, an IQ test is not the only tool used as conceptual skills, social skills and practical skills all need to be tested too. Conceptual skills include: language and literacy, the abstract of time and money, whereas social skills include: responsibility, self-esteem, ability to follow rules, social problem solving and even gullibility. Practical skills, on the other hand, include personal care, the ability to follow schedules, use money, and use transportation.

What Causes Intellectual Disabilities?

In most cases the brain becomes injured or there is a problem that prevents the brain from growing properly during term. There tends to be a lot of different variables that go into intellectual disabilities, but the most common include:

  • Illness or infection during pregnancy. Medication or illegal drugs that are taken during pregnancy can also cause disability.
  • Lack of oxygen during childbirth.
  • A head injury at any point during the child’s life.
  • Brain infections after birth.
  • A problem with the baby’s genes that causes issues during development. ‘

Children who do suffer from intellectual disabilities require a lot of help during school in order to learn proper life skills. However, most children who grow up with intellectual disabilities can live independently.

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