Intellectual Development Disorder or Intellectual Disability has already been known by other names, such as idiocy and mental retardation.

Intellectual disability is characterized by limitations in general mental abilities. These skills are linked to intelligence, activities that involve reasoning, problem-solving, and planning, among others. Intelligence is assessed using the Intelligence Quotient (IQ) obtained by standardized tests. The score for a person with Intellectual Development Disorder on this assessment is 75 or less.


The prevalence is higher in males, both in adult and child and adolescent populations. Fees vary by income. The highest prevalence occurs in low- and middle-income countries where rates are almost twice as high as in high-income countries.

Intellectual Disability – Main Symptoms

It is characterized by important limitations, both in intellectual functioning and in adaptive behavior, expressed in conceptual, social, and practical skills. Individuals with Intellectual Disabilities have significantly lower than average intellectual functioning. They have significant limitations in at least two of the following skill areas:

  • Learning and self-management in life situations, such as personal care, professional responsibilities, control of money , recreation, control of one’s behavior and organization of school and professional tasks ;
  • Communication ;
  • Skills related to language, reading, writing, math, reasoning, knowledge, memory;
  • Social/interpersonal skills (skills linked to awareness of others’ experiences, empathy, friendship skills, social judgment and self-regulation) .

People with Intellectual Disabilities find it difficult to learn, understand and carry out common activities for other people. Often, this person behaves as if he is younger than he actually is.

Treatment Of Intellectual Disability

Intellectual disability is not a disease but a limitation. Persons with Intellectual Disabilities must receive medical assistance and stimuli, through therapeutic work with psychologists, speech therapists, and occupational therapists.

Limitations can be overcome through systematic stimulation of development, adjustments in personal, school, professional and social situations, in addition to opportunities for social inclusion.

Institutions that ( perform efficient works in order to promote the diagnosis, prevention, and inclusion of people with Intellectual Disabilities.


The chance of a child developing Intellectual Disability depends on several factors related to genetics, monitoring of pregnancy, mother’s health during pregnancy, healthy family environment in childhood and adolescence, among others.

Some precautions must be taken to avoid or minimize the consequences of Intellectual Disability in the person’s life:

  • Seek genetic counseling before becoming pregnant, when there are cases of intellectual disability in the family, marriages between relatives or advanced maternal age (over 35 years).
  • Provide adequate prenatal care to investigate possible infections or maternal problems that can be treated before damage to the fetus occurs.
  • Maintain a healthy diet during pregnancy and avoid the use of alcohol, tobacco and other drugs .
  • Take the Little Foot Test – which is mandatory – as soon as the baby is born. This test is the most effective way to detect phenylketonuria and congenital hypothyroidism , which if not properly treated can lead to Intellectual Disability.
  • Follow vaccine recommendations.
  • Offer the baby adequate food and a healthy and stimulating family environment, as well as care to try to avoid accidents in childhood.
  • See a doctor if you notice any problems in the child’s development and/or growth.

Levels of Prevention Of Intellectual Disability

Three levels of prevention can be distinguished:

  • Primary, which refers to a set of approaches that reduce or eliminate the risk of the occurrence of Intellectual Disability;
  • Secondary, which aims at early diagnosis and treatment;
  • Tertiary, which seeks to limit disability

The Role of the Psychologist

A psychologist who specializes in developmental disorders and/or neuropsychology can be very important to the child’s development. The role of the psychologist must be based on the assessment of the environment in which the person lives and its adaptive conditions in order to provide an intervention in accordance with the patient’s demands.

The work primarily encompasses an assessment for educational purposes, social skills programs, teaching planning, guidance and planning of activities of daily living, training with professionals, as well as addressing specific topics such as sexuality and adaptive behavior.

Platforms that can facilitate the search for a psychologist who meets the specific requirements to serve parents and children who need follow-up. If you have any questions regarding a diagnosis, schedule a psychological assessment with one of our psychologists.