In the United States as well as Canada, a development disability refers to disabilities that can last a lifetime, which are associated with the impairment of physical or mental functions. Intellectual Developmental Disorder is a disorder in which a child fails’ to develop intellectually as well as physically in the manner he or she is supposed to. The symptoms of these disorders and disabilities are all manifested in the patient before the age of 18, and developmental disabilities are different from developmental delay. Intellectual Developmental Disorder is a lack in the adaptive functioning of a child as well as an intellectual defect in the development of a child.
Onset and diagnosis1:
The onset of Intellectual Developmental Disorder is during the developmental period of a child and it must meet three criteria for a confirmed and definite diagnosis. These criteria are:
- The disorder is characterized by the defect and lack of normal, general abilities of the brain which include planning, reasoning, judgment, problem solving, learning from different experiences, abstract thinking and learning in academics.
- The disorder also includes a deficit or lack in the adaptive functioning which is not compatible with the age of the patient, or the socio-cultural background. The meaning of adaptive functioning refers to the ability of a person to meet the normal standards in social responsibility as well as personal independence in various different aspects of everyday life.
- These aspects include social participation, performance at work or school, communication, and a sense of independence which applies to both, home as well as the whole community. This deficit thus results in persistent support required by the patient at work, in school or other aspects of an independent life.
It is essential that all symptoms of Intellectual Development Disorder manifest during the developmental stages of life.
There are a number of causes associated with the development of these disabilities which may physical, social or environmental. A definitive cause of the developmental disorder has not been established, but some of the common factors that may trigger the development of the disorder include the following:
- Injury or infection sustained to the brain prior to, during or after the birth of the child
- Nutritional or growth problems, prior to, during or after birth
- Genetic or chromosomal defects and abnormalities
- Premature birth, or birth much before the expected date
- Poor health of the mother due to lack of proper diet and health care
- Excessive alcohol intake or smoking during pregnancy
- Drugs that may cause adverse effects to the fetus, which include Thalidomide
- Child abuse and other forms of physical maltreatment that can result in some form of brain damage. This can alter the ability of the child to learn normally, and can also affect the child’s socio-emotional growth
Intellectual Developmental Disorder Statistics
The total percentage of population that is affected by developmental disabilities is nearly 2% in majority of the western countries. The percentage of people suffering from developmental disabilities all over the world is nearly 1.4%. It has been observed that the disorder mostly affects males rather than females. Studies have also shown that the prevalence of less severe forms of developmental disorders are also found in poverty stricken areas, as well as in certain races.
People who suffer from developmental disabilities are most likely to have various psychiatric illnesses, as well as mental health issues. Most children who suffer from Intellectual Developmental Disorder tend to suffer from even further problems that may contribute to mental illnesses or create new illnesses. These have been enlisted as follows:
- High chances of experiencing some traumatic situations or events during some part of their lives, which may include being abandoned by loved ones, being bullied or harassed, or experiencing some form of abuse.
- Developmental and social limitations that are implemented upon patients of developmental disorders, which may include poverty, restricted employment opportunities, lack of education, failed relationships as well as boredom.
- Various biological factors for example injury to the brain, misuse of certain drugs and epilepsy.
- Factors that can influence or affect development such as lack of appropriate behavior and the understanding and adaptation to social norms, and understanding different human emotions.
Intellectual Developmental Disorder does not have any set treatment and depends upon the type of disorder a child is diagnosed with. Supportive care for the child and counseling for the family is a must. In most instances the children require special education therapy and special attention at school2. Intellectual Developmental Disorder requires lifelong treatment in most cases and supportive care by family members as well. The severity of the disorder can be mild, moderate and severe in which treatment is different for each case and based on the level of severity.
2 Handbook of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (Clinical Child Psychology)