Introduction to Intellectual Disability


Introductionto Intellectual Disability

Intellectual disability refers to a disability, which occurs beforethe age of 18. Individuals with disability experience limitations intwo major areas: Intellectual functioning and adaptive behavior. Boththe limitations are often expressed in conceptual, practical, andsocial life of an individual’s everyday skills. A number ofindividuals that experience intellectual disability are affectedmildly and thus making their disability more difficult to see withoutvisual cues (Rapley, 2004). It is diagnosed with the use ofintellectual standardized tests and adaptive behavior. It is observedthat individuals with appropriate support over a sustained of time,generally experience outcome in life. The paper therefore, examinesintellectual disability by focusing on a special educator’sinterview of students with intellectual disability, and then focus onissues relating to student’s ID.

The special andregular educator’s interview highlighted a number of issues relatedto the students with ID. First, form the interview, the issuerelating to law, terminology, and identifying ID, was focused on.Some of the issues that relates to terminology of ID affects,specifically the parent and the perception of their children (Harris,2010). From the interview, it is evident that children were labelledas “trained mentally handicap” and “educable mentallyhandicap”, solely for purposes of not labelling them asintellectually disable (Race, 2007). Recently, the educators notedthat these terminologies have changed and now, they are being termedas MIMR (mentally, mildly retarded) and MOMR (severely mentallyretarded). The educators mused that it could help to keep pace withemerging terminologies.

Issues related tothe law, especially to the “no child left behind” law, was statesthat no matter how worse disability is, in a child, he or she shouldbe involved in every classroom setting, in order for him or her beexposed to the exact same available opportunities, just like other“normal” children (Harris, 2010). From the interview, both theeducators cautioned that the language and curriculum used by both thestudents and children, does not have not match with their ability.With issues related to ID, mental retardation is in comparison withthe standard scores of the IQ. This is because from the interview,the educators made it evident that IQ is then rated with the scores.These scores are supposed to be made as a team decision however,issues of ID may arise.

Secondly, theeducators made it known of the issues that surround the definitionsand classification of the students with ID. From the interview, itwas evident that the definition of ID also known as mentalretardation is considered a generalized disorder that appears mostlyduring childhood. It is known to impair significantly to cognitivefunctioning. ID is often defined to be an IQ over the score of 70(Rapley, 2004). It is often focused mostly on cognition, whereby itincludes both the component which both relates to functional skillsof the students’ skills and their surroundings. The issue here isthat a student with below average IQ may not be regarded to bementally retarded.

With theclassification, I learnt from the educators that although labels area strong predominant social factor, it appears that it does not onlyhurt the students, when they are labelled, but also the phrase“intellectual disability” is harsh to the parents (Race, 2007).The issue seems to also appear from the way students are classified.Not only are they labelled as intellectually disabled but alsomentally retarded. These labels are used to access where the childrenare and also what could be the reason for these special services tothe students. These can help with finding ways to assist the studentsunderstand their development better. Educators cautioned that is maybe hard to realize how approximate it could to address a student whenone is not aware of the student’s history, which include theirdiagnosis. Again, but also the exact “mental retardation” label,which appears to be the wrong label from the social context, becauseof the way those words are used. The issue of ID may help to closethe gap, and finding an appropriate classification, could be evenbetter.

Characteristics ofstudents with ID are considered to be in the mild range of 50 to 70IQ. However, there is no exact known cause of delays on development.The IQ tests on reliability and validity of the students after theeducator’s interview are often under scrutiny. From the interview,ID’s characteristics on learning, involved students with IDsprojected to achieve high quality of their living with a lot ofdifferent aspects through learning. Based on learning, instructionsand curriculum are carefully modified to assist these students toarrive at their potential in both the academics and independentliving, which are considered to be an example of functional areas(Harris, 2010). Through learning, while these students mightexperience limitations in a number of adaptive behaviors, thelimitations will co-exist with strengths from within an individual.

Impact of ID onsocial attitudes is as a result of labelling the students asintellectually disabled, which result in cognitive adaptive andsocial attitudes within a typical classroom environment. Based on theinterview, the same students develop social attitudes, especially inthe context of intensive academic demands and intellectualchallenges, which are characterized by impairment (Foreman, 2009).Finally, there are characteristics of ID on curriculum needs, wherebythey should not be neglected. This is boosted with promisingpractices to assist in supporting these students with theiracademics. One of the curriculum needs, in which the educatorspointed out, was the pre-linguistic milieu, which is a curriculumtechnique that requires a tie with instructions for specific intereston the student’s ability.


Foreman, P. (2009). Education of students with an intellectualdisability: Research and practice. Charlotte, NC: Information AgePub.

Harris, J. C. (2010). Intellectual disability: A guide forfamilies and professionals. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Race, D. G. (2007). Intellectual disability: Social approaches.Maidenhead, England: McGraw-Hill/Open University Press.

Rapley, M. (2004). The social construction of intellectualdisability. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.