What Is an Intellectual Disability?
- IQ below 75
- Significant limitations exist in adaptive behaviors, such as self-care, socializing, and communicating
- The disability begins before age 18
What Are the Causes?
- Phenylketonuria (PKU)—Children born with this rare genetic disorder cannot metabolize phenylalanine (PHE), which is an amino acid found in food. Without proper treatment, PKU can lead to intellectual disability.
- Down syndrome—In a normal fertilized egg, chromosomes exist in pairs. But, in the case of Down syndrome, there are three of chromosome 21.
- Fragile X syndrome—This is caused by mutations of the FMR1 gene, the leading cause of inherited intellectual disability.
Problems During Pregnancy
- Certain environmental toxins such as lead
- Illnesses of a mother during pregnancy that can be passed on to her infant, such as:
- Prescription medications such as isotretinoin and phenytoin
Problems at Birth
Problems After Birth
How Is an Intellectual Disability Diagnosed?
- Conceptual skills—For example, can the person read and write? Does he or she understand concepts like time and money?
- Social skills—Does the person follow rules? Does he or she have interpersonal skills? Can he or she solve social problems?
- Practical skills—Can the person take care of his daily needs? Can he or she work, use money, and stay safe?
What Are the Treatment Options?
- Early intervention
- Special education
- Family support
- Case management
- Job training
- Transition services
- Housing services
Can Intellectual Disabilities Be Prevented?
- Phenylketonuria (PKU)
- Congenital hypothyroidism
- Early and comprehensive prenatal care, including prenatal vitamins containing folate
- Abstaining from alcohol, tobacco, and drugs during pregnancy
American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities http://www.aaidd.org
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention http://www.cdc.gov
Best Buddies http://www.bestbuddies.ca
Live, Work, Play http://www.liveworkplay.ca
Intellectual disability. The ARC website. Available at: http://www.thearc.org/page.aspx?pid=2543. Accessed October 3, 2014.
Children with an intellectual disability. The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry website. Available at: http://www.aacap.org/aacap/Families%5Fand%5FYouth/Facts%5Ffor%5FFamilies/Facts%5Ffor%5FFamilies%5FPages/Children%5Fwith%5Fan%5FIntellectual%5FDisability%5F23.aspx. Updated October 2013. Accessed October 3, 2014.
Diagnostic adaptive behavior scale. American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities website. Available at: http://aaidd.org/intellectual-disability/diagnostic-adaptive-behavior-scale. Accessed October 3, 2014.
Intellectual disability. The Arc website. Available at: http://www.thearc.org/page.aspx?pid=2543&utm%5Fexpid=13574319-3.ivfS6SJ%5FSRO%5FLuVc4uC38Q.0. Accessed October 3, 2014.
Intellectual disability. Kronkosky Charitable Foundation website. Available at: http://www.kronkosky.org/research/Research%5FBriefs/Intellectual%20Disability%20May%202009.pdf. Published May 2009. Accessed October 3, 2014.
Intellectual disability. National Dissemination Center for Children With Disabilities website. Available at: http://nichcy.org/disability/specific/intellectual. Updated June 2014. Accessed October 3, 2014.
Intellectual disability. Merck website. Available at: http://www.merckmanuals.com/home/childrens%5Fhealth%5Fissues/learning%5Fand%5Fdevelopmental%5Fdisorders/intellectual%5Fdisability.html. Updated November 2013. Accessed October 3, 2014.
8/19/2014 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed: Reilly C, Atkinson P, et al. Neurobehavioral comorbidities in children with active epilepsy: a population-based study. Pediatrics. 2014;133(6):e1586-1593.
- Reviewer: Michael Woods, MD
- Review Date: 08/2014 -
- Update Date: 10/03/2014 -