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Learning about Intellectual Disability – Family Caregivers

Learning about Intellectual Disability

Learning about Intellectual Disability

What is an intellectual disability?

When a person has an intellectual disability (ID), this means that they have a reduced capacity to learn and apply new skills. They may have difficulty understanding new or complex information and so may require extra help with learning new things. Young children with ID may experience delays in development – learning to sit-up, crawl or walk for example. Some people with ID may have problems with communication and developing and maintaining relationships with other people. People with ID may also have problems interacting with their environment – this is known as social or adaptive functioning.

What is adaptive functioning?

Adaptive functioning usually encompasses three key skill sets:

  • Conceptual: affecting reading, problem solving and abstract reasoning. For example, using numbers, telling the time, using money and communicating with others.
  • Social skills: affect how a person understands and follows social norms and rules. For example, dressing appropriately for special occasions, sensing when someone might not be telling the truth and/or understanding and obeying laws.
  • Practical life skills: affect a person’s ability to engage in basic self-care and hygiene. For example, to manage and clean oneself, to use transportation, to take medication and to complete housework.

Impaired adaptive functioning means people with ID may find it difficult to cope with some aspects of life, such as:

  • Work
  • Education
  • Caring for themselves
  • Day-to-day tasks
  • Personal hygiene
  • Cooking
  • Cleaning
  • Doing the grocery shopping.

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