Children with intellectual disabilities are limited in how much they are able to learn or function. These children have a very low intelligence quotient (IQ) score. Some children have fewer limits and are able to lead independent lives when they are older while others have very severe limits that make them dependent on others for care.
Intellectual disabilities have a wide variety of causes, including birth defects, genetic conditions, injuries, certain infections or stroke. Intellectual disabilities can develop any time from before birth to age 18.
Signs of intellectual and cognitive disabilities may include:
Since all of these signs could also be caused by other conditions, it is important that a healthcare professional with extensive experience working with intellectual disability diagnose your child. An early diagnosis can be very beneficial in helping your child learn and function as well as possible.
Doctors with the Riley Child Development Center at IU Health perform comprehensive evaluations to diagnose intellectual and cognitive disabilities.
During the evaluation, your provider will take an extensive developmental history to find out about any health problems, what is going on in your child’s life and the history of his or her behavior. Your provider will also be observing your child and how they behave and interact during the appointment. You, the caregiver, may be asked to fill out a brief questionnaire or checklist. If needed, your child may be brought back for an appointment to undergo psychological testing, speech testing and/or a medical examination. This testing, often in the form of activities or games, lets your child’s provider identify symptoms and make an accurate diagnosis.
After your child’s evaluation, you will receive a detailed report about his or her particular condition as well as information on resources in your community that can help. These reports help ensure that all caregivers fully understand exactly what kind of support your child needs.
Early intervention and consistent support can help your child thrive. While there is no cure for intellectual disability, many programs and services in your community and at your child’s school can help your child learn at his or her own speed and gain the skills he or she needs to lead a satisfying life.
Your child may require services such as speech or occupational therapy, special education and transition care as he or she gets older. Riley at IU Health can help you locate these services in your community
Visit the trusted resources below for more information on intellectual and cognitive disability.
Riley at IU Health offers a broad range of supportive services to make life better for families who choose us for their children's care.
This large state organization strives to help and advocate for people with intellectual disabilities and their families. The organization's website provides access to valuable community and government resources.
This website includes information on a huge variety of topics for parents of children with disabilities. Topics include mental health, behavior, research and technology.
In addition to our primary hospital location at the Academic Health Center in Indianapolis, IN, we have convenient locations to better serve our communities throughout the state.
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