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Intellectual and specific learning disabilities

Intellectual and specific learning disabilities

Intellectual and specific learning disabilities

What is intellectual disability?

Intellectual disability (ID) is a characterized by cognitive delay and adaptive skill impairment caused by injury to the developing brain.

What are the causes and types of intellectual disability?

The causes of intellectual disability include genetic, metabolism conditions that can affect the brain, infections and possible exposures to things in the environment. ID can also be caused during the development of the embryo or the unborn child during pregnancy. It can also be caused by trauma or a lack of oxygen to the brain. ID may involve a well-described syndrome such as Down syndrome, Fragile X syndrome or other conditions.

How can intellectual disability be treated?

A multidisciplinary team with coordinated care improves an individual’s outcome.Treatment involves early identification and optimizing support in the child’s environment at home and school. Medications can help treat the symptoms and can also help manage behavioral and emotional problems. Predicting the outcome is best accomplished by identifying the cause, severity and providing a support network for the child and family.

Appropriate school accommodations help the individual meet the demands required of them. If the academic or social demands exceed the child’s ability to meet them, they will likely have behavior problems. Often transition periods, such as adolescence, new schools, home life changes may be challenging for the child.

How is intellectual disability diagnosed?

The diagnosis is made by sub-average intellectual functioning (IQ score of approximately 70 or below) on individual testing. Experts also look at other things, such as challenges the child may have with communication, self-care, home living, social/interpersonal skills, use of community resources, self-direction, functional academic skills, work, play, health and safety. If the child has challenges with at least two of those areas there is likely an intellectual disability. The onset is before age 18 years.

Standard IQ and adaptive behavior testing should be performed to confirm the diagnosis. Involvement may range from mild to severely impaired function.

How we can help

At the neurodevelopmental clinic at Shriners Hospitals for Children — Honolulu, it is our goal for children with intellectual disability to reach their full potential and contribute to society.

For those interested in learning more, we are happy to discuss ways that our team can specifically help your child reach his/her potential. Please feel free to contact us.

Neurodevelopmental Clinic
Shriners Hospitals for Children — Honolulu
1310 Punahou Street
Honolulu, HI 96826


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