A Reason To Be
Did you know that 1 to 3 out of every 100 people in the United States has some form of an intellectual disability? The term intellectual disability used to generally describe a whole series of conditions and disorders that cause subaverage intelligence levels. The onset is before the age of 18 and is also characterized by significant limitations is adaptive functioning.
An IQ of less than 70 indicates that a person has an intellectual disability. From there, there are four levels of severity: mild, moderate, severe, and profound. Those that have a mild intellectual disability have an IQ in the range of 70 to 55 and accounts for 85% of intellectually disabled individuals. Those that have a mild disability usually are able to live independently, with life coaching and/or slight supervision. They are able to hold down jobs and support themselves, but some aspects of life prove to be difficult. This level of disability may not be noticeable until a child reaches the school years.
For those that fall into the moderate category, about 10%, their IQ score is the in the range of 55 to 40. Those with this level of severity may be able to live in an assisted living facility and be able to hold an employment position with coaching and supervision. A lot of these individuals work in workshop programs. The level of disability is more noticeable and may be caught before the child enters school.
Severe intellectual disabilities are characterized by an IQ of 40-25. It is estimated that the occurrence is about 3-4% of the disabled population. These individuals are very unlikely to be able to live on their own, although some do, with assistance. Many find employment in structured workshops. This severity is more noticeable than the previous two and is often discovered when the child fails to meet motor and communication milestones during development.
Profound intellectual disabilities are the most severe and account for only 1-2% of all people that have an intellectual disability. IQ levels are below 25. These individuals need constant supervision to ensure their safety as many are lacking survival and self-protection skills. Many are able to communicate basic wants and needs but language skills are severely delayed. Many can learn basic household tasks, personal hygiene skills, and some can even work under close supervision, after they are taught the skills that are needed to perform the job. Children with this level of severity often show autistic-like characteristics and the diagnosis usually comes in early childhood.
The descriptions above, do not even being to scratch the surface of intellectual disabilities. Yes, the above statements are accurate and true, and they nicely put people into categories, but you cannot simply describe someone based on their intelligence level or if and how they can perform a job. Intellectual disabilities are more complicated than that. The people that have them are more complicated than that.
The only people that know what it is like to have a intellectual disability are those people that have them. For others, it is hard to even begin to imagine what it is like. The weight of the diagnosis is a load that they have to carry with them for their whole lives, never to escape from it. It defines what other people think about them and it determines what they think that person can or cannot do.
The amazing part is that if you sit down and have a conversation with someone who has an intellectual disability, you will find that their condition does not define who they are. It does not factor into to their abilities to achieve goals or reach dreams. Their condition is never used as an excuse to not do something, it is always used as a reason to do something. It is truly amazing.
One man I worked with loved the following quote:
“Shoot for the moon, even if you miss you'll land among the stars!”
To Read More By the Author About Intellectual Disabilities
- Rhonda's Hand: The Beginning of My Journey
I was twelve years old when I was introduced to my first person who had developmental disabilities. My step-mother worked for an agency that supported people who had different severities of development...
For More Information...
- Intellectual Disability
An understanding of the nature of intellectual disability is essential for health care professionals, who are required to support equal access to their services for all disabled people.
- Center for Disease Control & Prevention
Information on mental retardation. Provided by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention.
If you want to know more...
Sir Ian McKellen gives a knockout performance as a mentally challenged man dealing with the harsh realities of the world. From birth, Walter has always been a fighter. Through his own grueling efforts, he learns to read and write and even manages to hold down a humble job. When his parents die, however, Walter suddenly finds himself alone and unable to cope with the crowds, the noise and the world outside his little home. The only solution is a lengthy stay at a forbidding psychiatric hospital, an experience that proves even scarier to the young man.
Life In The Shadows focuses on President John F. Kennedy's pioneering effort to improve the lives of persons with mental retardation. His advocacy culminated in the 1963 signing of the fi rst piece of legislation in our country's history addressing the needs of citizens with mental retardation and underwriting research and programs of action in the area of hereditary disorders, child disease and birth defects.
"Just like Anyone" gives a glimpse into the lives of 5 families that are doing their best to help their sons succeed, even though they are faced with severe developmental disabilities. It explores the journey that these families have been through to accept their sons as who they are, and then begin to work together as a family, and in cooperation with their school - The Ann Sullivan Center of Peru - to help them reach ever increasing goals.
Five outgoing reporters with mental and physical disabilities hit the road, traveling coast to coast in a hand-painted RV, interviewing everyone they meet. Follow the news team as they explore honky-tonk bars in Nashville, alligator farms in Arkansas, the Grand Canyon and the wild streets of America’s cities and towns. Unassuming, funny, and genuine to the core, this is not your typical news show.
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