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What is Intellectual Disability and What are Its Types?

Intellectual disabilities, also known as intellectual developmental disorders, are a group of conditions characterised by limitations in intellectual functioning and adaptive behaviour. These limitations affect a person’s everyday social and practical skills. Intellectual disabilities can be classified into different types based on their severity and underlying causes. 

Here are some common types:

  • Mild Intellectual Disability (MID):
    • Individuals with mild intellectual disability typically have an IQ score between 50-70.
    • They may face challenges in academic and social settings but can often learn practical skills and lead relatively independent lives with support.
  • Moderate Intellectual Disability:
    • IQ scores in the range of 35-49 are characteristic of moderate intellectual disability.
    • Individuals in this category often require more assistance with daily living skills and may benefit from structured environments and ongoing support.
  • Severe Intellectual Disability:
    • Severe intellectual disability is associated with IQ scores between 20-34.
    • Individuals with severe intellectual disability may have significant challenges in communication, self-care, and mobility and often require constant supervision and support.
  • Profound Intellectual Disability:
    • Profound intellectual disability is the most severe form, with IQ scores below 20.
    • People with profound intellectual disabilities may have limited or no ability to communicate verbally, and they often require extensive assistance with daily activities.
  • Genetic or Chromosomal Intellectual Disabilities:
    • Conditions such as Down syndrome, Fragile X syndrome, and other genetic or chromosomal abnormalities can also lead to intellectual disabilities.
  • Acquired Intellectual Disabilities:
    • Intellectual disabilities can also result from brain injuries, infections, or exposure to toxins during prenatal development or early childhood.
  • Global Developmental Delay (GDD):
    • GDD is a term used when a child does not meet expected developmental milestones in multiple areas, including intellectual functioning, language, and motor skills. It may later be reclassified as a specific type of intellectual disability or another developmental disorder.

Eventually, it’s important to note that these classifications are not rigid, and the impact of intellectual disabilities can vary widely among individuals. Moreover, the emphasis in recent years has shifted from focusing solely on IQ scores to considering adaptive functioning and the individual’s ability to meet the demands of daily life. The goal is to provide appropriate support and interventions to help individuals with intellectual disabilities lead fulfilling lives to the best of their abilities.

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