Skip to main content
About Intellectual Disabilities
According to the American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (AAIDD), "Intellectual disability is a disability characterized by significant limitations both in intellectual functioning and in adaptive behavior as expressed in conceptual, social, and practical adaptive skills. This disability originates before age 18.

A complete and accurate understanding of intellectual disability involves realizing that intellectual disability refers to a particular state of functioning that begins in childhood, has many dimensions, and is affected positively by individualized supports. As a model of functioning, it includes the contexts and environment within which the person functions and interacts and requires a multidimensional and ecological approach that reflects the interaction of the individual with the environment, and the outcomes of that interaction with regards to independence, relationships, societal contributions, participation in school and community, and personal well being."

Intellectual disability does not mean a person cannot learn, or grow, or live a meaningful life. Everyone develops at different rates and intellectual disability simply means that a person develops and learns more slowly. Children and adults with intellectual disabilities feel, hope and dream like everyone else and with the proper supports can have successful futures.

From 2.5 to 3 percent of the general population (6.2 to 7.5 million Americans) have intellectual disabilities. It is 12 times more common than cerebral palsy, and affects 100 times as many people as total blindness. Intellectual disability affects one out of ten American families.

Intellectual disability is caused by any condition which impairs development of the brain before birth, during birth or childhood. Several causes have been discovered, but the cause is not known in about one - third of cases. The three major known causes are Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS), caused by drinking alcohol while pregnant, and the genetic disorders of Down syndrome, and Fragile X syndrome.

Other genetic origins, problems during pregnancy, some childhood diseases, and environmental hazards are among other causes.

About Developmental Disabilities
The term Developmental Disabilities refers to a group of disabling conditions which are manifest before the individual attains age 22 and

•are likely to continue indefinitely
•are attributable to a mental or physical impairment or a combination of mental and physical impairments
•results in functional limitations in three or more of the major life activities
•and reflects an individual's need for a combination of supports that are of a lifelong or extended duration and are individually planned and coordinated.

Intellectual disability is considered a developmental disability. Some other developmental disabilities include: Epilepsy, Cerebral Palsy, Spina Bifida, Autism & Traumatic Brain Injury.