Understanding people with Intellectual Disability

The first step towards understanding diversity is acceptance. People with intellectual disability have the same emotional needs as us, but lack of acceptance hampers their emotional quotient. So, their capacities are grossly underestimated and their potential is not fully realised.
It is important to understand that intellectual disability arises due to incomplete development of the brain, which in turn, may happen due to various reasons. In most cases, brain impairment cannot be reversed.

Enhancing brain functions, such as cognition and language, help people with intellectual disability live a more independent and socially fulfilling life, positively impacting their functioning and quality of life. So far, efforts have been on training cognitive functions which play an important role in learning, memory and comprehension.

The most common causes of intellectual disability are genetic or chromosomal abnormalities, problems during pregnancy, problems during child-birth and illness or injury.

Experience has shown that it is more effective to design learning interventions on functional assessment than IQ score, as the latter biases our work with them. The potential for development is higher than what is commonly recognised.

Also see: Understanding people with Intellectual disability and Causes of Intellectual Disability

Understanding the Difference By Rohina

Everyone seems to be in a hurry for their children to be the first … the first to walk…. the first to come out of Diapers… the first to learn to read… What is the hurry? Every child is different…

“Different” is not “difficult”… we make it difficult by giving it that label. This is something I have experienced during the process of becoming a Special Educator. I have experienced a change in my way of looking at things. I was very disturbed during my initial placements in special units. I was unable to apply my knowledge, as I was bound with the “problem” of an individual and that it made me emotionally low. I wanted to do a lot but could not take a step further… I felt really very helpless. I believe that the word “Disability” was immersed in my mind that it kept troubling me. For many days and I kept reflecting…………

One fine morning I made up my mind that I am going to look at the person as a person first & not at his problem. By doing this I captured the beauty of the person – something I had missed for so long. After that ‘Acceptance’ came so easily. I cleaned up all the judgments from my mind. I opened my mind and this gave me immense happiness in working and making my work more effective.

After that I have always worked with the same spirit… be it an inclusive school or a Government hospital. Working with varied age groups gives me a lot of clarity about the gaps and how we can fill them up.

All of us should empathize with those who are different than us & carry them along in this journey of life which is full of bliss, rather than sympathize!!

Causes of Intellectual Disability

There is an inadequate knowledge about the causes of intellectual disability. Medical science can determine causes only in approx. 20% of the cases. What we know is that intellectual disability occurs due to incomplete development of the brain. The most common causes are:

Genetic or chromosomal abnormalities e.g. Down syndrome and fragile X syndrome.

Problems during pregnancy: Things that can interfere with foetal brain development including alcohol or drug use, malnutrition, certain infections, or pre-eclampsia.

Problems during child-birth: If a baby is deprived of oxygen during child-birth or born extremely premature.

Illness or injury: Infections like meningitis, severe head injury, near-drowning, extreme malnutrition, exposure to toxic substances such as lead, and severe neglect or abuse etc.

Relevant Radio Talks

Related audio 1: Developmental disability – Overview and meaning, What is intellectual disability, Causes, Community reaction/myths, Parent tips, Downs syndrome, Parent testimonialRelated audio 2: Developmental disability, Intellectual disability, Symptoms of ID, Clinical psychologist feedback, Gross motor and cognitive ability, Language ability, Social personal skills, Parent fears/concerns, Focus on child’s strength, Developmental areas, Ways to identify/strengthen gaps, How to look after oneself, Community interaction