Some legal and technical definitions can be seen below
- National Trust Act (Rules and Regulations 1999)
- Person with disability Act 1995
- UN Rights of Persons with Disability The Convention adopts a social model of disability, and defines disability as including those who have long-term physical, mental, intellectual or sensory impairments which in interaction with various barriers may hinder their full and effective participation in society on an equal basis with others.
Defining Intellectual Disability
A Google search for the definition of intellectual disability throws up more than a million results. Simply put, it is a disability that limits the intellectual functions and some other functional capabilities of a person.
The most important thing to understand is that the emotional, psycho-social and biological needs of people with intellectual disability are same as anyone else. They need love, acceptance, sense of achievement, friends and respect. They enjoy responsibilities and social roles.
To elaborate – in some people, intellectual or cognitive functions are not fully developed, due to incomplete development of the brain. In more severe cases, this developmental delay can lead to difficulty in performing even simple tasks, although the extent varies considerably. This range of impairment of intellectual functions is generally referred to as ‘intellectual disability’ (mental retardation is not used anymore).
Although most people have mild to moderate difficulties, a few inevitably need higher levels of support. Technically, people with an IQ of 70 or less are termed as having intellectual disability.
Children with intellectual disabilities usually have delayed milestones. They tend to sit, crawl or walk more slowly than other children. Delays in language development are also common. Though they find it harder to learn, understand and communicate, proper intervention and support enhances their abilities. They are “concrete” thinkers and learn better with concrete examples. A limitation in “abstract” thinking creates difficulties in academic learning.
Experience has shown that it is more effective to design learning interventions on functional assessment than IQ score, as the latter biases our work with them. The potential for development is higher than what is commonly recognised.