Intellectual Disability Services

Intellectual Disability

According to data from the Special Olympics, around 6.5 million people in the United States have an intellectual disability — somewhere between 1 and 3% of our population. It is one of the most common developmental disabilities.

In this article, we’ll explore intellectual disabilities further.

What is an Intellectual Disability?

Intellectual disability describes a condition where someone faces limitations regarding cognitive and mental function in two areas:

  • Adaptive functioning: Daily life activities, such as communication and living independently.
  • Intellectual functioning: Learning, critical thinking, problem-solving, etc.

The American Association of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities defines someone as having an intellectual disability if they meet the following three criteria:

  • IQ below 70-75
  • The condition appears before age 18
  • Significant limitations in at least two areas of adaptive functioning

Signs of Intellectual Disability

What Causes Intellectual Disabilities

Intellectual disabilities may have many causes.


Some intellectual disabilities occur for genetic reasons. This could be due to abnormal genes being inherited from parents, gene combination problems, and so on. 

For example, Down syndrome is an intellectual disability that develops through abnormal cell division. This division creates an extra full or partial copy of the 21st chromosome, which leads to Down syndrome.

Birth or Pregnancy Complications

Improper development of the child during pregnancy can lead to an intellectual disability. For example, if the baby’s cells divide incorrectly, they may develop an intellectual disability. 

Circumstances at and just after birth can increase the chance of intellectual disability as well. For example, if a baby doesn’t receive sufficient oxygen, they may develop an intellectual disability.

Disease or Toxins

Exposure to toxins such as lead or mercury can lead to intellectual disabilities. Alcohol can as well, as it causes Fetal Alcohol Syndrome.

Additionally, diseases like measles and meningitis in the mother can cause the baby to develop an intellectual disability. Malnutrition can also lead to improper development and possible intellectual disability.

Signs of Intellectual Disability

Signs of Intellectual Disability

In general: the higher the severity of an intellectual disability, the sooner you can spot the signs because they crop up early on. That said, it’s not always easy to predict how an intellectual disability will impact a child’s life down the road.

Here are some common signs of intellectual disability in children:

  • Trouble speaking or learning to talk late
  • Learning to sit up, crawl, or walk late
  • Memory difficulties
  • Difficulty understanding social rules
  • Behavioral problems
  • Issues with problem-solving
  • Inability to connect actions to results/consequences

How Prestige Home Care Can Help

At Prestige Home Care, we’re dedicated to helping those with intellectual disabilities reach their fullest potential and thrive. 

We’re able to help your loved one learn the skills necessary to live enjoyable, independent lives while providing supervision and assistance where needed for health and safety. At the same time, we give you a break from your daily routine of caregiving so you can rest and recover.

Contact us today to learn more about our intellectual disability services in Philadelphia, PA.