What to know about intellectual disabilities

Intellectual disabilities are disabilities characterised by limitations of mental functioning and abilities, as well as adaptive function and behaviour, which covers many everyday social and practical skills. This type of disability develops before birth, during early childhood or adolescence (always before the age of 18).

A person with an intellectual disability may have more difficulty with practical and everyday aspects of life, like problem solving, practical understanding, reasoning, learning from example or instructions, abstract thinking, verbal communication, and working memory.

Intellectual disabilities are classified according to severity into four categories: mild, moderate, severe or profound. Each level comes with its own degree of intellectual, physical and adaptive functioning, and will require a specific level of support or care. Different intellectual disabilities have different causes, such as genetics (e.g. Down syndrome), illnesses (e.g. meningitis), brain trauma, or developmental disorders (e.g. Foetal Alcohol Syndrome).

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