There are seven common types of Intellectual Disabilities (ID) diagnosed among children today.
This may mean a child has difficulty communicating, learning, or remembering information.
With that in mind, let’s explore what you need to know about each of these intellectual disabilities…
- What it is?
- What are the causes?
- Common questions and answers
- And MORE…
Be sure to stick around from start to finish to access helpful links throughout along with your bonus resource. 🙂
Cerebral Palsy (CP) is the most common neurological childhood disorder.
It is brain damage that happens before or shortly after birth that affects both body movement and muscle tone.
When diagnosed, a doctor will categorize cerebral palsy into one of four types.
This is determined by the number of limbs or body parts affected including where mobility is impacted.
The four common types of cerebral palsy include…
- Spastic – This is the most common type affecting 70-80%.
- Ataxic – This is the least common type impacting around 6%.
- Athetoid – This is the second most common type.
- Mixed – This is a combination of Spastic, Ataxic, or Athetoid affecting about 10% of children.
Meet my sweet nephew, Lenny, to the right. 🙂
He was diagnosed with Ataxic CP at 18 months old.
Depending on where the brain damage occurs, mobility challenges may occur in the arms, legs, hands, face, and tongue.
Even though CP is permanent damage, the condition will not worsen over time.
Down Syndrome (DS) is a genetic disorder where the child has an extra chromosome in their body.
Specifically, it is a common birth defect that is caused by having extra gene material, specifically chromosome 21.
To break down the definition of both…
- Chromosomes are groups of genes in the body.
- Chromosome 21 is the tiniest gene representing 1.5 to 2 percent of the total DNA in cells.
In a nutshell, this type of genetic disorder is when a child has an extra copy of chromosome 21 (also referred to as trisomy-21).
Most children with DS experience physical and mental delays.
For instance, learning difficulties in speech and language development are common.
Medical complications, like a congenital heart defect, sleep apnea, or obesity are also common.
Epilepsy is a brain condition that causes you to have seizures.
It happens to be one of the most common disorders of the Central Nervous System (CNS).
A seizure happens due to bursts of electrical activity in the brain.
Sometimes, there is a flare-up of “abnormal” electrical signals of the brain which impact the “normal” signals.
When this happens, a seizure may occur.
Most of the time epilepsy is diagnosed during childhood or after 60 years.
Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD)
Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) is a condition that can occur when the infant’s mother drank alcohol while pregnant.
FASD causes brain damage and problems in a child’s growth and development.
Problems vary from child to child but the defects are permanent and not reversible.
Fragile X Syndrome (FXS)
FXS is a genetic disorder that is caused by changes in the gene called the fragile X mental retardation 1 (FMR1).
The FMR1 usually makes a protein referred to as ‘fragile X mental retardation protein (FMRP)’.
The FMRP is the protein that helps develop normal brain activity.
Children who have FXS do not make this protein.
FXS impacts both boys and girls.
Research shows, ‘about 1 in 7,000 males and about 1 in 11,000 females are diagnosed with FXS.’
Hearing loss may happen to anyone at any time, but detecting it early on is crucial.
Hearing is the initial step to understanding spoken language and how to talk.
These initial signs may show a hearing loss if a child is…
- Talking late
- Having difficulty talking
- Misbehaving (outbursts or tantrums)
- Slower to master daily activities (getting dressed or going to the potty)
- Delayed in hitting developmental milestones (crawling, walking, or sitting)
When a baby or child loses hearing, usually there is something blocking the outer or middle ear.
This blockage prevents the sound waves from reaching the ear.
Prader-Willi Syndrome (PWS)
Prader-Willi Syndrome (PWS) is a genetic disorder that occurs in approximately one out of every 15,000 births.
PWS affects both boys and girls equally while impacting all races and ethnicities.
It is recognized as the most common genetic cause of life-threatening childhood obesity.
- Small hands
- Small feet
- Abnormal growth (small stature)
- Abnormal body composition (low lean body mass)
- Weak muscles at birth (hypotonia)
- Insatiable hunger
- Early-onset childhood obesity
- Intellectual disability
PWS results from an abnormality of chromosome 15.
It is diagnosed based on genetic testing.
Common Questions and Answers
What is Intellectual Disability?
Intellectual Disability (ID) is the term used when a child has certain limitations with their cognitive thinking skills.
For instance, a kid may have issues…
- Processing thoughts
- Difficulty problem-solving
With these types of limitations, a child learns and develops at a slower pace.
What causes Intellectual Disability?
The cause of ID is based upon the following risk factors:
Including the timing of when the exposure happens either before birth or after birth plays a crucial role.
The American Language Speech Hearing Association describes these causes as
“some prenatal causes (e.g., environmental influences) are preventable.
Genetic causes account for 45% of ID (Batshaw, Roizen, & Lotrecchiano, 2013).
Down syndrome is the largest genetic cause of ID, and Fragile X syndrome is the largest inherited cause of ID.
Fetal alcohol syndrome is the largest environmental cause of ID.”
Is Intellectual Disability determined by an IQ test?
Yes, but evaluating and classifying intellectual disability is a complex issue.
There are three major criteria that come into play:
- Limitations in intellectual functioning
- Limitations in adaptive behavior
- Onset before the age of 18
The IQ test is a major tool in measuring intellectual functioning.
This is the mental capacity for learning, reasoning, problem-solving, and so on.
A test score at 75 or below is a sign.
Does an IQ test determine other things?
Yes, the test can determine other limitations in adaptive behavior.
For instance, these skill sets may be affected:
- Conceptual skills (language, writing, numbers, self-direction)
- Social skills (interpersonal skills, responsibility, self-esteem, problem-solving, the ability to follow rules)
- Practical skills (common daily activities like dressing or going potty, travel, safety)
Children and adults with intellectual disabilities are truly an inspiration.
I believe ‘disability’ means ‘ability’ because our human spirit encompasses many capabilities such as courage and perseverance that no disability can take away.
An incredibly inspiring quote by Hellen Keller says, “Your success and happiness lies in you. Resolve to keep happy, and your joy and you shall form an invincible host against difficulties.”
I want to wrap up by extending my gratitude to thank you for stopping by today!
If you have questions or anything to add that I did not cover, please comment below.
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Other Helpful Resources…
For more Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) you may have about Intellectual Disabilities, click here.
If you need early intervention play ideas to develop a child’s social and motor skills, check out these fun game ideas.
Here is a great guide to reference that includes all the critical topics surrounding an individual who has intellectual and developmental disabilities.
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