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Definitions and Overviews of Intellectual Disabilities

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Health
Wordcount: 2683 words Published: 23rd Mar 2018

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Outcome 1: Define Intellectual Disability


1.1 Give 2 definitions of intellectual disability in accordance with a recognized source. Follow prescribed APA format when citing sources.

Definition 1:

Intellectual disability causes limitations in intellectual functioning as well as in adaptive behaviors that include many skills which is needed every day. The onset age is under 18.

Source: FAQ on Intellectual Disability, American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, retrieved from: http://aaidd.org/intellectual-disability/definition/faqs-on-intellectual-disability

Definition 2:

Intellectual disability is a term used for when people has certain limitations in functioning mentally and in skills such as communicating, performing activities of daily living, and in his or her social behavior. Children with this ability may develop their skills (walking, talking, etc) at a delayed time as compared to normal. They may also have trouble with learning- it usually takes them a longer time to learn new skills.

Source: National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities.(2005) Intellectual disability, retrieved from: http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/actearly/pdf/parents_pdfs/IntellectualDisability.pdf

1.2 Using a definition of intellectual disability give 2 explanations of how this impacts on the persons adaptive skills:

  1. People with intellectual disability experience impairment in their ability to comprehend information. As a result, they have a hard time with reading comprehension, handling money, dealing with numbers and time.
  2. Due to their impaired social functioning, they also find it hard to socially deal with others. They don’t recognize the laws of society and they have a limited ability to follow rules.

Using a definition of intellectual disability give 2 explanations of how this impacts on the cognitive abilities:

  1. Reasoning People with an intellectual disability cannot reason like normal people. They lack the ability to explain why they do certain things or why certain things happen. This is due to their impaired intelligence.
  2. Learn and apply what is learnt- Intellectually disabled people have a hard time to gain new knowledge. It is difficult for them to process new information and understand new skills.

Outcome 2: Describe the causes of intellectual disability


2.1 Give 2 examples of causes of intellectual disability that occur before birth and describe two (2) main characteristics of the effects.

Example 1: Fragile X syndrome

Source: National Fragile X Foundation. (1998-2014). Fragile X Syndrome, retrieved from: http://www.fragilex.org/fragile-x-associated-disorders/fragile-x-syndrome/

Main characteristics:

  1. Physical features of FXS patients include: large ears, long face, macroorchidism, infections in the ears, flat feet, high arched palate, fingers with double joints and hyper-flexible joints
  2. Behavioral characteristics for FXS patients may include the following: Attention Deficit Disorder, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Autism and Autistic behaviors, social anxiety, hand-biting and or flapping, poor eye contact, sensory disorders and high risks for aggression.

Example 2: Prader-Willi Syndrome

Source: Suzanne B. Cassidy, MD. (2012). Parder-Willi Syndrome, Genetics in medicine, 14, p10

Main characteristics:

  1. People who have Prader-Willi Syndrome have severe hypotonia. Therefore their sucking is poor in their early infancy.
  2. They are characterized by excessive eating and not able to control eating.

2.2 Give 2 examples of causes of intellectual disability that occur during or immediately following birth and describe 2 main characteristics of the effects.

Example 1: Trauma

Source: Merck Sharp and Dohme Corp. (2010-2013). The Merck Manual, Home Health Handbook, retrieved from: http://www.merckmanuals.com/home/childrens_health_issues/problems_in_newborns/birth_injury.html

Main Characteristics:

  1. Head and brain injury. Swelling of the scalp and bruising may occur due to birth trauma. Bleeding between the periosteum and skull causes a haematoma, usually in the parietal region and sometimes the occipital region.
  2. Nerve Injury. Sometimes, when forceps used to assist delivery puts much pressure on the facial nerve, weakness on one side of the face results. This injury becomes evident when the newborn baby cries and the face appears to be asymmetric.

Example2: Cerebral Palsy

Source: Karen W. Krigger, M.D., M.ED., University of Louisville school of Medicine, Cerebral Palsy: An Overview, Kentucky Am Fam Physician. 2006 Jan 1; 73(1): 91-100, retrieved from: http://www.aafp.org/afp/2006/0101/p91.html

Main Characteristics:

  1. Cerebral palsy is characterized by motor function impairment. It causes activity limitation.
  2. People with cerebral palsy exhibit cognitive and sensory impairments.

2.3 Give 2 examples of causes of intellectual disability that occur during childhood years and describe the impact on the day-to-day support needs of the person.

Example 1: Brain Tumor

Source: PMC: US National Library of Medicine, National Institute of Health. January 2008. “Caring for the Brain Tumor Patient: Family caregiver burden and unmet needs.”, retrieved from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2600839/


Patients with brain tumor need various supports in their day to day lives. Psychosocial support is one of them. It is important for them to learn how to handle the stress of a chronic illness, as family members realize that their lives will be forever changed by the uncertainty that surrounds this diagnosis. It is therefore important for the support provider to make sure the patient and family understands the impact of this illness to them and provide them of ways on how to cope and possibly live a close to normal life. Also, for the caregivers, it is important that they are always prepared for the possibility of disease progression. Even though a patient is stable for a certain period of time, the caregiver will always feel the wear and tear of caring for this patient. Thus, it is important to make sure that caregivers are also taken cared of to ensure quality care.

Example 2: Meningitis

Source: Kelli de la Rocha (2014). Intellectual disability. NYU Langone medical center. retrieved from: http://pediatrics.med.nyu.edu/conditions-we-treat/conditions/intellectual-disability#


Children with intellectual disability caused by meningitis can’t learn skills and any knowledge as fast as other children with same age. So supporters need to wait for their achievement with patient. And also they need to be aware of the risk that the children experience seizure, and then they should be trained for coping with them suffering seizure.

Outcome 3: Describe conditions frequently associated with intellectual disability.


Condition 1: Cerebral Palsy


Cerebral Palsy can be caused by having injury of brain before brain development is completed. Usually brain develops within 2 years after birth, so Cerebral Palsy can be occurred during prenatal or infant period. And birth complication can also cause this condition. But many cases get this condition from unknown causes before birth.

Main characteristic 1:

Cerebral Palsy is characterized by motor function impairment. It causes activity limitation.

Main characteristic 2:

People with Cerebral Palsy exhibit cognitive and sensory impairments.

Physical support:

People with Cerebral Palsy suffer from hypotonic and rigidity. So physical therapy is useful to support them physically. Effective physical therapy can help them to improve their muscle. Recent studies report that intensive exercise is effective. So support worker can make a schedule for resistive exercise four times per week.

Social support:

People with Cerebral Palsy can be easily isolated because of their handicaps. So support workers need to reduce barriers to participation in activities of school, work and society. To participate in activities, many devices are necessary. If the client can’t walk, using wheelchair could be helpful to go watching football games and cheer a team.

Cognitive support:

People with Cerebral Palsy can be normal intellectually, but they have difficulty in learning because of limitation of hearing, seeing, and movement. So for supporting them cognitively, support worker needs to help their study by give them enough time to understand and express or adjust knowledge. And support worker can provide some aids to improve their speech.

Source/s: Karen W. Krigger, M.D., M.ED., University of Louisville school of Medicine, Cerebral Palsy: An Overview, Kentucky Am Fam Physician. 2006 Jan 1; 73(1): 91-100, retrieved from http://www.aafp.org/afp/2006/0101/p91.html

Condition 2: Prader-Willi Syndrome


Prader-Willi Syndrome is caused by genetic abnormality. They have the chromosome number 15 without genetic information that normally people have from the father. It is thought to occur entirely by chance.

Main characteristic 1:

People with Prader-Willi Syndrome have severe hypotonia. So their sucking is poor in their early infancy.

Main characteristic 2:

Obesity is commonly caused. This is a result of an excessive appetite, a permanent feeling of hunger, and hyperphagia or overeating, and a low calorific requirement which is due to low energy expenditure levels.

Physical support:

People with Prader-Willi Syndrome can’t control their eating because they always feel hunger. Furthermore, they can easily become obesity that causes many complications. To prevent them from being obesity, support workers need to give exercise outside where they can’t find food easily. They need regular and continual exercise, so it is important to make a schedule with various and interesting exercise to them.

Social support:

They should strict supervision of daily food intake. Once overeating starts between ages 2 and 4 years, supervision will help to minimize food hoarding and stealing and prevent rapid weight gain and severe obesity. Parents should lock refrigerators and all cabinets containing food. No medications have proven beneficial in reducing food-seeking behavior. A well-balanced, low-calorie diet and regular exercise are essential and must be maintained for the rest of the individual’s life. People with PWS rarely need more than 1,000 to 1,200 calories per day.

Cognitive support:

People with PWS have difficulty controlling their emotions. Using behavioral therapy can help. Stubbornness, anger, and obsessive-compulsive behavior, including obsession with food, should be handled with behavioral management programs using firm limit-setting strategies. Structure and routines also are advised

Source: Andres Martin, M.D, 1998, Prader-Willi Syndrome, Am J Psychiatry 1998; 155:1265-1273, retrieved from http://ajp.psychiatryonline.org/article.aspx?articleID=173004

Condition 3: Autism


The condition is the result of a neurological disorder that has an effect on normal brain function, affecting development of the person’s communication and social interaction skills.

Main Characteristic 1:

Seizure disorders, including epilepsy, occur in as many as 39 percent of those with autism. It is more common in people with autism who also have intellectual disability than those without. Someone with autism may experience more than one type of seizure.

Main Characteristic 2:

Almost People with autism have unusual responses to sensory input. They have difficulty processing and integrating sensory information, or stimuli, such as sights, sounds smells, tastes and/or movement. They may experience seemingly ordinary stimuli as painful, unpleasant or confusing.

Physical Support:

Physical Therapy (PT) is focused on any problems with movement that cause functional limitations. Children with autism frequently have challenges with motor skills such as sitting, walking, running or jumping. PT can address poor muscle tone, balance and coordination.

Social Support:

Individuals with autism have a great deal of difficulty with social interactions. In recent years, social skills training, in both one-on-one and peer group settings, has become a very common treatment for facing this particular challenge. Social skills taught during training sessions range from simple skills like eye contact, to more difficult skills like inviting a peer for a play date. Studies have shown that this type of intervention program can significantly improve social competence and social skill development.

Cognitive Support:

Sensory Integration (SI) therapy is designed to identify disruptions in the way the individual’s brain processes movement, touch, smell, sight and sound, and help he or she process these senses in a more productive way. It is believed that SI does not teach higher-level skills, but rather enhances sensory processing abilities, allowing the child to be more available to acquire higher-level skills.

Source: Autism Speaks Inc. 2014. “Autism Speaks”. Retrieved from: http://www.autismspeaks.org/what-autism


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