Intellectual disability is characterized by a significantly
below-average score on a test of mental ability or intelligence and by
limitations in the ability to function in areas of daily life, such as
communication, self-care, and getting along in social situations and
school activities. Intellectual disability is sometimes referred to as a
cognitive disability or mental retardation.
Children with intellectual disability can and do learn new skills, but
they develop more slowly than children with average intelligence and
adaptive skills. There are different degrees of intellectual disability,
ranging from mild to profound. A person's level of intellectual
disability can be defined by their intelligence quotient (IQ), or by the
types and amount of support they need.
People with intellectual disability may have associated physical disabilities as well. Examples of these coexisting conditions include visual impairment, hearing loss, speech and language problems, seizure disorder, and cerebral palsy. Children with intellectual disability also have a three- to four-fold greater risk of emotional and behavioral problems such as autism, ADHD, anxiety, and mood disorders. Children with severe intellectual disability are more likely to have additional disabilities than are children with mild Intellectual disability.