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Intellectual disability refers to the developmental disability which affects an individual’s ability to learn and make use of information. This disability may occur during childhood and continue throughout an individual’s life. An individual with intellectual disability is able to effectively participate in every aspect of daily life, but at times requires more help than others to learn a task, adapt to routines and changes, and address the many barriers to participation that arise from the society’s complexity. This is normally due to the impairment of their cognitive processing hence cannot function as the rest part of the society. Children and young individuals possess different abilities and they develop at varying rates. Therefore some children may find the learning of new skills and information to be difficult since they have an intellectual disability. Most of the discussions in this paper are based on the findings of the interview with Mrs. Blanche White who is a teacher at Camphill special school.

Learning in People with Intellectual Disabilities

An individual is said to have a developmental disability if they possess an IQ level below 70 as well as having difficulties with daily life skills as communication, interaction with others and looking after themselves, before they attain the age of eighteen (Wehmeyer et al, 2003). As Mrs. White puts it, every individual has unique characteristics regardless of their intelligence quotient score; their own personality, areas of ability and those of difficulty. In general, an individual with an intellectual disability; slowly learns and processes info than a normal person, has difficulty when dealing with abstract concepts such as time and money, and has difficulty in understanding interpersonal interactions subtleties. Needs are dependent upon individual factors. Intellectual disability impacts vary considerably, just like the ability range varies among individuals (White, 2012). Arbitrary categories of profound, severe, moderate and mild intellectual disability levels are defined basing on the IQ scores. It is important to know these levels as they provide some guide regarding the support level that one might need (Hospital, 2011).

Diagnosis and Prescription of Intellectually Disabled Children

After talking to Mrs. White, I was able to learn that, intellectual disability is identified through a tested IQ level of 70 usually being the upper borderline for those requiring special care as well as training. It is usually classified in accordance to categories which take an individual’s social and physical development into account. Those with upper range scores (53-70) constitute the majority of persons with intellectual disabilities and they are able to learn prevocational and academic skills with some special training. Those with moderate scores (36-52) are able to learn basic academic skills and undertake semi-skilled work under some form of supervision. Those within the severe range (21-35) have limited communication skills but are able to care for themselves with constant supervision. Lastly, the profound ranges (0-25) which comprise the smallest number demonstrate minimal responsiveness and institutionalization is nearly inevitable (White, 2012). Educators have coordinated IQ scores with capabilities of potential learning and they are; educable is 50-75, trainable is 25-50 and custodial is 0-25 (Hospital, 2011).

Mrs. White points out that, for an individual to be diagnosed as possessing an intellectual disability, they will need a formal assessment which normally is done by a school counselor or a psychologist. This process involves the gathering of information about the individual from their parents, school or child care centre, doctors and therapists as well as interaction and observation of the child. Formal intellectual testing might involve taking the child through a series of tasks like solving puzzles and problems, naming pictures and answering questions (Hospital, 2011).

Children with intellectual disabilities will continue learning and developing new skills, though at their own rate, according to Mrs. White (2012). More often, they will need time and practice as compared to other children of their age. Once diagnosis has been made, additional support is provided to the child both at home and school in order to assist them learn to their potential best. Several options are available for education and they include additional assistance in a mainstream class, a school particularly designed for students with intellectual disabilities or a special unit within a mainstream class. Occupational therapists, speech therapists and psychologists can as well offer extra assistance at home or at school (Wehmeyer, Hughes, Agran, Garner, & Yeager, 2003).

Goal Instruction of Students with Intellectual Disabilities

Strategies directed for student learning involves teaching of students to regulate and modify their own behavior. The teaching of students to self regulate behavior has been recognized as a means of promoting and enhancing self determination and which has become an internationally valued outcome, Mrs. White explains. Additionally, the strategies of student directed learning have proved to be important in including intellectually disabled students in general education classrooms through reducing the dependence of the students on others in a classroom setting (Wehmeyer, Hughes, Agran, Garner, & Yeager, 2003).

The school based team must set individual goals as one of the areas of the IEP process. For many intellectually disabled students, these goals are normally broad and are related to behavioral and social areas. Basing on the interview with Mrs. White (2012), teachers need to set not only high but also attainable goals for the students so that may learn the necessary skills in order to successfully meet the adulthood demands. These demands can be expressed in different ways but they generally include categories as;  participation in meaningful activities within the community, personal relationship skill development, decision making and self management achievement, personal health and safety maintenance, and finally independent living skills development (Ministry, 2011).


Persons with intellectual disabilities differ from one another and some may require support in order to live independently within the community while others will live independently on their own with perhaps little difficulties in reading and writing. Most at times, having a child with an intellectual disability can be so upsetting for their families as they may feel the need to make different future plans. Nevertheless, it should not be forgotten that every person has got their own strengths and weaknesses and building self esteem is crucial for confidence in order to learn new skills.

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