Other Names
Associated Disorders
Intellectual Disabilities Definition

“Intellectual disability is a disability characterized by significant limitations in both intellectual functioning and in adaptive behavior, which covers many everyday social and practical skills. This disability originates before the age of 18.”

Definition from ​aaidd.org

  • IQ less than 75 
  • adaptive behaviors develop slower than their age group peers.
  • “Rolling over, sitting up, crawling or walking late”
  • Trouble talking or slower speech development
  • Difficulty potty training
  • Trouble learning to dress themselves
  • Trouble learning to feed themselves
  • Trouble remembering
  • Can’t connect consequences to their actions.
  • Explosive tantrums and other maladaptive behaviors
  • Issues with problem-solving and logical thinking.

Other Names for this Disorder

  • Mental Retardation
  • Intellectual disability is diagnosed with an IQ less than 70-75. Average IQ is 100 and the majority of people score between 85-115. 
  • Deficits in adaptive behavior are diagnosed by observing a child’s skills and comparing them to the average skills of other children of the same age group.
Preventing Intellectual Disability

    Not all causes of Intellectual disability are preventable, but pregnant women can take steps to decrease the likely hood of their child developing an intellectual disability by not using drugs and alcohol while pregnant. Getting proper prenatal care and taking prenatal vitamins are also essential in lowering the risk of Intellectual disabilities. If there is a worry about genetic conditions families can undergo genetic testing to see if genetic disorders are likely if they conceive a child. Tests like ultrasounds and amniocentesis can identify genetic abnormalities in utero, but there is currently no way to reverse or cure these disorders.

  information above from WebMD​

Services for Adults with Disabilities
  • Employment Services are through the local department of Vocational Rehabilitation can include: Sheltered workshops, and Accommodations. ​

Post Secondary Education Services:  Students can receive accommodations through the Student Access and Disability Services Office of their school. Through this office students can get accommodations such as written notes, extra time on tests, assistive technology, transitional summer programs.

  • Recreation Programs: Talk to your school or disability service provider for disability recreation programs in your area. You can find some general links on theDisability Recreation page

  • Independent Living: Independent living is what we strive to help people with disabilities achieve with the proper education and support. You can find resources on our Independent Living page.

Intellectual Disability Services

      Intellectual Disabilities are not curable, but individuals with Intellectual Disabilities  can lead successful lives with early intervention, education and therapy.

  • Early intervention programs such as Head Start and Easterseals can be the reason that children with Intellectual Disabilities becoming independent adults (for a full list look for early intervention page coming soon). This can mean the difference of the child growing up to live on their own with some supports or living their life in a group home setting. The severity of Intellectual disabilities vary. Children with severely low IQ’s will need more intensive interventions than children with a mild Intellectual Disabilities and higher IQ.  With early intervention programs families work with therapists and teachers to create a Individualized Family Service Plan or IFSP. For more information go to our Early Intervention Programs page and our Resources by State page.


  • School aged children with Intellectual Disabilities may receive services in school in the mainstream classroom, or a special education room. Services for school aged children are individualized and specified in the child’s Individualized Education Plan or IEP. For resources to help you advocate for your child in IEP meetings check out the IEP resources on the Resources for Parents page.


  • College Students with Intellectual Disabilities. Young adults with Intellectual Disabilities can get post secondary education. Students can receive accommodations through the Student Access and Disability Services Offices of their school. Through this office students can get accommodations such as written notes, extra time on tests, assistive technology,transitional summer programs, and much more. Look into criteria needed for applying such as ACT score.Talk to school about bypassing general studies classes such as foreign language requirements. Disclosing learning or developmental disabilities at the time of application is important to insure that the student will be able to keep up with his or her classmates and explain abnormalities in their application and will help the student get the resources they need. 
    • I personally experienced this when I went to college. I was scared to tell people about my chronic migraine headaches that often made it hard for me to concentrate when I was experiencing them. I also experience severe anxiety and depression which was undiagnosised and untreated until my sophomore year of college. ​I was fortunate that Truman State University had a wonderful Disabilities Services Program and I was able to get a letter stating that if I had a migraine I didn’t have to come to class, and could make up a test if I had a migraine on a test or quiz day. Without these services I would have struggled a lot more in college. I also recommend asking your perspective school about medical leave procedures if you have a medical condition that might at some point make you miss classes or take a semester off.


  • Young adults and Adults with Intellectual Disabilities can receive services through their local disability services organization. Through theses services an adult with disabilities and their caregivers will develop an Individualized Program or IP which will include and IPP or Individualized Program Plan.  A list of resources by state can be found on the Resources by State page

  • Remember Dmkbooks is still developing. If you don’t see your state and county information yet please email me at dawn.kohler@dmkbooks.online and I will add the information for your area as soon as possible.