Understanding People With A Intellectual Disability Psychology Essay


Intellectual disability is a disability characterized by significant limitations in both intellectual functioning and in adaptive behavior as expressed in conceptual, social and practical adaptive skills before the age of eighteen (Luckasson et al.,2002 p.1). There are three characteristics identifying children with intellectual disabilities; mild, moderate, and severe disabilities. In the mild intellectual disabilities children in second or third grade are not identify until they enter school and formally mental retardation children master academic skills. The second characteristics is moderate intellectual disabilities is where the child experience a delay in development and adaptive functioning during their preschool years. As they get older they could experience health and behavior problems that could be sign of mental retardation. Lastly severe profound intellectual disabilities can cause central nervous system damage at birth in infants and other health impairments (Heikua et al., 2005).

The American Association on Mental Retardation (AARMR) in 1973 incorporated there definition of mental retardation with IDEA as a significant sub average general intellectual functioning existing concurrent within a adaptive behavior and manifest during the developmental period that adversely affects a child ‘educational performance. (34 C.F.R., Sec 3000 9 (b) (5). The American Association of Intellectual and Developmental after many debates based their definition on needed support of intellectual disabilities that covers the same population of individuals who were diagnosed previously with mental retardation in number, kind, level, type, and duration of the disability and the need of people with this disability for individualized services and supports. Furthermore, every individual who is or was eligible for a diagnosis of mental retardation is eligible for a diagnosis of intellectual disability. Schalock, Luckasson, and Shogren (2007 pg. 116)


In 1990 IDEAs P.L. 101-476 defines autism as a developmental disability affecting verbal and nonverbal communication and social interaction, generally evident before age three that adversely affects a child’s educational performance. Autism is also known as Autism Spectrum Disorders has five subcategories; Autistic Disorder; Asperger’s Syndrome; Rett’s Syndrome; Childhood Disintegrative Disorder; and Pervasive Developmental Disorder.

Some common characteristics of children with autism is communication, diagnosis, cannot speak (mute) gestures or gaze to share attention with objects or events (Jones & Carr. 2004 p. 13), a child might not be able to stand sounds and intellectual functioning.

The cause of autism is still unknown, but in 2007 researchers gave causes of autism as abnormal brain development structure and/or neurochemistry (Akshoomoff, 2000, Hyman & Towbin 2007). They know that it is a brain disorder, usually present from birth, which affects the way the brain develops and process information related to language, memory, thinking and the senses. (National Research Council, 2001, p. 11).

Severe Disabilities

Severe disability has no specific definition that exists. Some are based on IQ scores, mental, emotional or physical abilities. The causes of severe abilities are environment, trauma at birth, delayed language, lack of nurturance or healthcare. Characteristics of severe disability can be positive and display warmth, humor, need life skills, diminishing cognitive functioning that affect thinking, learning, attention, and memory. Many have significant physical, health, and communication needs, significant developmental delays, difficulty in learning, self-care skills and need for repetition to acquire skills. Visual impairment causes deaf-blindness in functional hearing (Baldwin, 1995), communication and social skills. Children with this problem cannot learn because they need to be able to communicate and see in the classroom. Children with deaf-blindness interact with others inappropriately (e.g., hand flapping, finger flicking, head rocking) (Downing & Eichinger, 1990, pp.98-99) and exhibit behavior due to them not being able to communicate.

Traumatic Brain Injury

Traumatic brain injury is defined by IDEA, 1990 (P.L. 101-476) as an acquired injury to the brain caused by and external physical force, resulting in total or partial functional disability or psychosocial impairment, or both, that adversely affects a child’s educational performance. It applies to open or closed head injuries resulting in impairments in one or more areas, such as cognition; language; memory; attention; reasoning; abstract thinking; judgment; problem-solving; sensory, perceptual, and motor abilities; psychosocial behavior; physical functions; information processing, speech. Traumatic brain injury does not apply to brain injuries that are congenital or degenerative, or to brain injuries induced by birth trauma. (20 U.S.C. 1401 [2004], 20 C.F.R. 300.8[c][12])

There are three causes of traumatic brain injury; a open head injury that penetrate the skull due from a bullet or blow to the head. The open head injury can result in specific deficits to sensory functions and behavioral. Then there is the closed head injury within the cranium of the brain that affect nerves, axons cause from a car, fall, or playing sport. Another cause is the shaken baby syndrome is when a baby is violently being shaken and cause brain injury to the baby. Traumatic brain injury is one of the leading causes of death in children and one of the most common causes of acquired disability in children (Lenrow).

Deaf Blindness

Deaf blindness is a combination of hearing and visual impairments causing such severe communication, develop-mental, and educational problems that a child cannot be accommodated in either a program specifically for the deaf or a program specifically for the blind. The definition that IDEA gives for deaf-blindness is the concomitant hearing and visual impairments, the combination of which causes such severe communication and other developmental and educational needs that they cannot be accommodated in special education programs solely for children with deafness or children with blindness. (20 U.S.C. 1401 [2004], 20 C.F.R.300.8[c][2])


Finally, whether its intellectual disabilities, autism, severe disabilities or deaf-blindness, IDEA says a “child with a disability” with mental retardation, hearing impairments (including deafness), speech or language impairments, visual impairments (including blindness), serious emotional disturbance, orthopedic impairments, autism, traumatic brain injury, other health impairments, or specific learning disabilities; and who, by reason thereof, needs special education and related services. (IDEA Sec. 300.8 Child with a disability)



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