Intellectual disability seems to be on the rise in Australia. In 2009 about 2.6% of the population had an intellectual disability which increased to 2.9% in 2012.
This is about 668,100 of Australians between the age of 0 – 75 and over. Older women above 75 years of age have a much higher risk of this disability while the condition is much more common in men throughout their lives and especially during early years. It is rather alarming that these figures seem to be increasing, especially since this type of disability isn’t necessarily genetically inherited.
What exactly is an intellectual disability?
Intellectual disability is basically problems with general mental abilities that can affect functioning. Intellectual disability mostly affects intellectual functioning as in the case of learning problems, problem-solving issues, and judgment difficulties or can affect adaptive functioning where communication and independent living can be affected. If you’d like to know more on what is intellectual disability then you can head over to Think Organise Do.
The disability can vary from mild; where sufferers can still function relatively normally and enjoy a high-quality life to extreme cases in which case sufferers might need permanent care and can even have restricted functioning such as the inability to communicate.
How is intellectual disability diagnosed?
The condition is diagnosed by examining intellectual and adaptive functioning.
Evaluating intellectual functioning – Standardised testing is used to test intellectual functioning and often involves doing a full-scale IQ test. IQ scores of around 70 – 75 usually indicate limited intellectual functioning although many adaptive functions are also considered before a proper diagnosis is made.
Evaluating adaptive functioning – Doctors will evaluate three areas of adaptive functioning when they are examining the patient.
Conceptual examination – This examination involves testing language, reading, writing, math, reasoning and memory capabilities.
Social examination – In this examination empathy, judgment, communication skills, and social interaction capabilities are considered.
Practical examination – This examination focuses on independence capabilities such as to work, tend to responsibilities, manage money and to care for oneself.
It is important to know that intellectual disability can be mild as in the case where young children will show delays in language, motor skills and more and in many cases mild intellectual disability isn’t identified until early school ages or can be obtained at a later stage due to external factors or medical conditions.
Co-occurring conditions you should be aware off
Intellectual disability often co-occurs with other conditions such as mental health, neurodeve