Intellectual disability, previously referred to as “mental retardation”, is used as a diagnosis when a person has a deficit in intellectual and adaptive functioning before the age of 18.  Intellectual performance is measured through multiple IQ tests that test reasoning, problem solving, planning, abstract thinking, judgment, academic learning and experiential learning.  Adaptive functioning is scored through adaptive tests and measure communication, social skills, self-help skills and school functioning.

Intellectual disability may cause a child to learn and develop more slowly than other children of the same age. Usually, the more severe the degree of intellectual disability, the earlier the signs can be noticed. ID is categorized by IQ scores into the mild range (IQ from 50 to 70), moderate range (IQ from 35 to 49), severe range (20 to 34), and profound range (IQ less than 20).  Children with mild ID don’t show any physical characteristics and usually function independently in daily life.  Children with severe to profound ID require caretaking throughout the day and are not able to live independently.

Children with intellectual disability may:

  • sit up, crawl, or walk later than other children
  • learn to talk later, or have trouble speaking
  • find it hard to remember things
  • have trouble understanding social rules
  • have trouble seeing the results of their actions
  • have trouble solving problems


Treatment: In most cases, the recommendation for Intellectual Disability is a combination of behavioral, educational and physical therapies. No single treatment is the answer for every child and good treatment plans will include close monitoring, follow-ups and any changes needed along the way.


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Epilepsy Foundation. (n.d.). Retrieved January 23, 2015, from

Intellectual Disabilities – Marcus Autism Center. (n.d.). Retrieved January 24, 2015, from