Intellectual Disability: What to Look For

Children with intellectual disability learn more slowly than typically developing children. These learning deficits generally apply to many kinds of learning and across different developmental stages. Young children with the disorder may learn to sit up, crawl, walk or talk later than other children. Most have difficulties developing communication skills as well as trouble interpreting and applying new information. These children often have trouble keeping up in school.

Older children with intellectual disability may demonstrate deficits in memory, social, and problem-solving skills. A lack of social inhibitions may also be a sign that a child has this disorder—not because the child is “acting out” or “rebelling,” but because he has difficulties interpreting the signs as to what kinds of behavior are appropriate in a given situation.

Children with intellectual disability often have difficulty with adaptive skills, or tasks of daily living, that typically children do not experience.