Characteristic of Intellectual Disability

What are the two limitations that characterize an intellectual disability?

The first limitation is an inhibition of the person’s mental functioning abilities, expressed as trouble learning. They will typically be able to internalize everything that an unimpaired person can, but take longer to do so by comparison. The second is that they have trouble functioning socially, struggling to communicate, take care of themselves, and otherwise behave. They can also learn all of these practices, but their complexity can lead to issues later, particularly concerning finer details.

Intellectual disabilities occur before what age?

Intellectual disabilities are often the result of a person’s genetics or the conditions surrounding their birth. As such, they can develop before the person is even born. Some conditions, such as meningitis or malnutrition, can also cause mental issues later on in one’s life. However, diagnosing them at an early age is quite difficult (Krause, Ware, McPherson, Lennox, & O’Callaghan, 2016). Usually, parents notice developmental problems in their children when they are about two years old, as soon as they cannot start walking or talking.

What are some of the common characteristics that a child with an intellectual disability may exhibit from birth-age 5 (before entering school)?

Children with intellectual disabilities struggle to learn a variety of topics, which can lead them to begin to walk or talk later than their peers. Another sign is the inability to analyze information, think logically, and take care of oneself, expressed as poor memory and a weak understanding of consequences. Sometimes uncontrolled and aggressive behavior is observed, which is not associated with obvious reasons. Psychologists identify big problems with the assimilation of new information in children with dementia precisely in the preschool period.

What are some of the non-academic characteristics impacted by an intellectual disability?

Children with intellectual disabilities begin to sit, crawl, and walk later than other children at the same age. They also have problems with speech or pronouncing individual letters or words. Children find it difficult to remember the appearance of a thing or its name, nor do they understand how to pay and buy these things (Krause et al., 2016). They do not recognize and do not follow social rules and cannot foresee the consequences of their actions.

What are some of the mental health and medical disorders that are prevalent in individuals with an intellectual disability?

Mental health problems in people with intellectual disabilities are the same as in other people, but the prevalence is higher. Sleep disorders, schizophrenia, and anxiety, as well as sleep issues, are among the most common. People with intellectual disabilities are also prone to developing somatoform disorders and depression, as well as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. As for physical health problems, developmentally disabled people have a higher risk and prevalence of diseases such as obesity, epilepsy, diabetes, HIV and STDs, and dementia.

List the 5 high-risk factors that may indicate the presence of intellectual disability.

  1. Hereditary genetic diseases and general abnormal genes present in parents, particularly when both possess some that fit the category.
  2. Issues during pregnancy, whether due to an outside influence such as alcohol, an accidental natural development, or infection.
  3. Troubled birth, particularly if the baby is asphyxiated in the process due to some form of complication.
  4. Illnesses such as meningitis, whooping cough, or measles, particularly early on in the person’s life.
  5. Problems during development, such as severe malnutrition, inadequate medical care, or exposure to toxic substances.

Do you think that both adaptive behavior and intelligence should be considered in the identification of an intellectual disability?

Humans are social creatures, and impaired adaptive behavior can have a severe adverse effect on one’s life. As such, it should be classified as an intellectual disability for all intents and purposes and approached with care. People with average adaptive abilities and mental issues can typically find a place in a society and a fulfilling position in life. As such, intelligence should be the smaller factor in the classification, though people with severe learning problems should be classified as intellectually disabled.


Krause, S., Ware, R., McPherson, L., Lennox, N., & O’Callaghan, M. (2016). Obesity in adolescents with intellectual disability: Prevalence and associated characteristics. Obesity Research & Clinical Practice, 10(5), 520-530.

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ChalkyPapers. "Characteristic of Intellectual Disability." September 26, 2023.