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Intellectual & Developmental Disabilities

(Also called mental retardation)


For most students with intellectual

disabilities, especially those with mild
impairments, the cause of the disability
cannot be determined.

(Friend, 2011, p. 237)

Federal Definition of IDD:

Significantly subaverage
general intellectual functioning,
existing concurrently with deficits
in adaptive behavior and
manifested during the
developmental period, that
adversely affects a childs
educational performance.

Inside This Newsletter:

Cognitive & Academic Characteristics
Recommended Teaching Strategies
Social & Emotional Characteristics
Additional Resources


(Friend, 2011, p. 236)

Causes of IDD:
Down Syndrome: A genetic disorder that can result
in intellectual disabilities
Fragile X Syndrome: An inherited intellectual

Phenylketonuria: Inherited metabolic disorder that

leads to intellectual disabilities
Toxoplasmosis: Infection caused by a parasite
Encephalitis: Inflammation of the brain caused by
any viral infection

Prader-Willi Syndrome: Caused by several types of Lead Poisoning: Young children exposed to lead
mutation on chromosome 15
Fetal Alcohol Syndrome: The impact of maternal
alcohol consumption on an unborn child

poisoning are at risk for intellectual disabilities

Brain Injury: An event that causes injury to the brain
Image: Microsoft Clipart

Although in the
past many
children with
disabilities were
Most families of children with intellectual disabilities
think of their children in terms of their personalities and
contributions to the family, not their disability label.
(Friend, 2011, p. 253)

sent to
professionals and
families now

Cognitive & Academic

In traditional classification
systems, individuals are
grouped based on the extent
of their cognitive impairment.
Mild MR: IQ = 55-69
Moderate MR: IQ = 40-54
Severe MR: IQ = 25-39
Profound MR: IQ = below 25
Memory: Children with
intellectual disabilities are likely
to forget what theyre
supposed to do, especially if
the task involves many steps.
Generalization: Students
with intellectual disabilities
have difficulty with
generalization (the ability to
learn a task or idea and then
apply it to other situations) of
academic tasks, of behavior

expectations, and in social

Metacognition: Another
challenge for many students
with intellectual disabilities is
metacognition, the ability to
think about thinking.
Students with intellectual
disabilities are most successful
when they are not expected to
make judgments about what to
do next.
Motivation: Some students
with intellectual disabilities
experience problems with
motivation and learned
helplessness. Learned
helplessness may not be a
result of frustration with the
task at hand, instead may be
because professionals and
classmates are too eager to
offer assistance.

stress helping
them to reach
their potential
and function
successfully in
(Friend, 2011, p. 235)

Many students with

intellectual disabilities
need assistance in
friendships with their
(Friend, 2011, p. 244)
Image: Microsoft Clipart

Language: Many students
with intellectual disabilities
have delays in language and
may struggle with words that
are abstract in meaning.
Academic Skills: Students
with intellectual disabilities
usually have to work harder
and practice longer than other
students in order to learn
academic skills (Friend, 2011,
p. 243). Recent studies have
shown that when students with
mild intellectual disabilities are
educated in general education
classrooms with peers, they
often make more academic
progress than similar students
who are taught in special
education classes.

Task Analysis

Peer-Mediated Instruction

Task analysis is an
instructional strategy that
ensures a systematical
learning is taking place and
that it enables students to
make appropriate decisions
about planning instruction.
By guiding students to learn
each small step of a process
and then putting the steps
together, teachers and
parents can help children
with intellectual disabilities
master more and more
complex tasks.

Another way of making

learning accessible to all
students is to use peer-mediated
instruction, in which peers
teach peers. Doing so can
involve cooperative-learning
strategies that bring together
student groups of three or
more. Also, peer tutoring can
be especially effective for
students with intellectual
disabilities and can often help
students without disabilities
develop more positive views of
their peers with special needs.

Social, Behavior, and


Many students with intellectual

disabilities have difficulties in
social relationships and tend to
be less accepted by their peers
To be identified as having (Friend, 2011, p. 244).
an intellectual disability, a
Researchers have also found
student must display deficits in that students with intellectual
adaptive behavior such as:
disabilities experience more
Communication, self-care,
loneliness than do students
social skills, home living
without disabilities, and these
leisure, health and safety, self- feelings may persist into
direction, functional
adulthood (Friend, 2011, p.
academics, community use,
and work.
As students with intellectual disabilities approach adulthood,
the emphasis in their education usually shifts toward learning
job skills that will enable them to be successful members of
their community.
(Friend, 2011, p. 248)

Additional Resources
The National Dissemination
Center for Children with
Disabilities offers a website
specifically for children with
intellectual disabilities. This
website provides tips for both
parents and teachers on how to
provide the best environment

My Name is Not Slow

By: Autumn Libal
This book was written
specifically for students with
intellectual disabilities and tells
the story of a girl with down
syndrome. The book goes into
detail about her growth and
development as well as how
she and her family are
affected of her condition.


This website provides an

immense amount of
information about people with
intellectual disabilities. How to
deal with diagnosis, family, life
stages, and physical health are
just a few of the categories
that can be chose from. This
website is a great link for both
people with intellectual
disabilities, as well as their
family, friends, and teachers.

A few students with intellectual disabilities attend separate schools or live in

residential facilities that include academic programs. Usually, these are students
who have complex medical needs requiring the on-call availability of nursing or
medical staff, or they are students who have very serious behavior problems in
addition to intellectual disabilities.

(Friend, 2011, p. 251) Image: Microsoft Clipart

Works Cited
Autumn Libal, (2004). My Name is Not Slow. 1st ed. : Mason
Crest Publishers.
Marilyn Friend, (2011). Special Education. 3rd ed. New Jersey:
Pearson Education, Inc..
(2012). . [ONLINE] Available at: http://
www.intellectualdisability.info/. [Last Accessed 9 October
(2012). . [ONLINE] Available at: http://nichcy.org/disability/
specific/intellectual. [Last Accessed 9 October 2012].