Kentucky's Office for the
Americans with Disabilities Act

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Intellectual Disability  

Intellectual Disability refers to substantial limitations in present functioning and is characterized by the following:

        1. below average intellectual functioning (IQ of 70 or below).

        2. limitations in two or more of the following areas:
                    - self care
                    - self direction
                    - home living
                    - functional academics
                    - leisure
                    - communication
                    - health and safety
                    - social skills
                    - community use
                    - work

        3. manifestation before age 18. 

From: "Those of Us DisLabeled: A Guide to Awareness and Understanding", University of Kentucky Human Development Institute, Cooperative Extension Service)


       For Mild to Moderate Intellectual Disability:

  • Do not use complex sentences with a person who is mentally slow.
  • Concentrate on concrete ideas and skills. An individual with Intellectual Disability often has trouble with abstract concepts.
  • Make instructions clear and concise. Break directions down into small steps or tasks.
  • Demonstrate whenever possible. Showing is often more effective than telling.
  • Be patient, persistent, and consistent.
  • Provide warmth and acceptance. Promote a sense of security through a smile, words of praise, or physical expressions of affection.
  • Show respect. Do not be condescending. Talk to the individual as a person; talk to an adult as an adult, not as a child.
  • Don't have low expectations for a person with Intellectual Disability. Given training and support, a person with retardation can be gainfully employed and totally integrated into society as a valuable, contributing member.

      For Severe to Profound Intellectual Disability:

  • Use the accommodations listed above.
  • Do not react with pity, anxiety, or a variety of other negative emotions when first meeting a person with a severe handicap.
  • Use age-appropriate conversation.
  • Use age-appropriate activities.
  • Include these individuals in community and family activities. Even an individual with profound retardation profits from events that provide integration/interaction with persons who are not handicapped. In fact, this is the way he/she learns best. Being exposed to every phase of community life allows him/her to learn the behaviors necessary for achieving maximum participation in society.

For More Information:

Contact the Kentucky Department for Mental Health and Intellectual Disability Services, Division of Intellectual Disability. (502) 564-7702.



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