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Types of Intellectual Disability

The types of intellectual disability are frequently grouped by school-area skill sets. For school-aged children, the most conspicuous types of cognitive impairments involve reading, writing, or mathematics. If your child isn't yet in school, you may notice delays in speech development or development of gross and fine motor skills (i.e. crawling, walking, running, using eating utensils). Don't forget that these learning disabilities look different from one child to another.

Intellectual disability in reading

Two types of intellectual disability occur in reading. One type manifests when your child has difficulty understanding relationships between letters, sounds, and words. The other shows up in problems with reading comprehension where your child has issues grasping the meaning of words, sentences, and paragraphs. Signs of intellectual disability in reading:

· problems in letter and word recognition

· problems understanding words and ideas

· slow reading speed and low fluency

· poor vocabulary skills

Intellectual disability in math

The types of intellectual disability in math vary widely depending on your child. For instance, your child's ability to succeed in math is affected by any co-occurring language disability, visual impairment, or problems with memory, organization, and sequencing. If your child struggles with memorizing and organizing numbers and math facts, he or she may have an intellectual disability in math. He or she may have great difficulty telling time and with abstract thought.

Intellectual disability in writing

This type of intellectual disability can involve either the physical activity of writing, the mental activity of comprehending and putting together information, or both. Children with this intellectual disability have problems forming letters, words, and written expression. Signs of an intellectual disability in writing include:

· messy writing

· problems copying letters and words with accuracy

· problems with spelling

· issues with coherence and organization when writing

Intellectual disability with motor skills

Children with an intellectual disability that affects motor skills have problems with both gross and fine motor skills. They may seem uncoordinated for their age and have significant problems with movements that require hand to eye coordination.

Intellectual disability with language

This type of intellectual disability involves the ability to speak and to understand spoken words. Signs of this type of impairment include:

· problems retelling a story

· problems in speech fluency

· issues with understanding word meanings

· issues carrying out directions

· problems understanding parts of speech

Intellectual disabilities with auditory and visual processing

Some children have auditory or visual processing problems, causing learning to suffer. This intellectual disability manifests by causing the person to have difficulty in processing the things they hear and see. They may lack the ability to tell the difference between certain sounds. Others can't distinguish the difference between certain shapes and images. Depending on the severity of impairment, this can profoundly affect learning.

Children with mild impairment may simply have slight challenges in one or two areas. Those with severe to profound impairment in many or all areas may need constant supervision and highly specialized educational services.

Other disorders that may occur along with intellectual disabilities include attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and autism. Both of these disorders make can make learning and day-to-day life difficult, especially if compounded with intellectual disabilities.

It's important to understand that these learning disabilities occur at various levels and your child's needs depend on the severity of impairment.

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