An Intellectual Disability (ID) is an impairment in cognitive functioning that can range from mild to severe and may impact an individual’s ability to communicate, learn and retain information. Formal testing is required to receive a diagnosis for ID as one of measurements for this diagnosis is based on the individual’s IQ score.
Individuals with ID may struggle with reasoning, problem solving, planning, abstract thinking, judgment, academic learning, and learning from experience. It can take an individual longer to learn language, self-care skills, and social skills. Individuals with ID are often still able to learn and achieve some level of independent function, especially with the help and support of a trained counselor.
A Learning Disability (LD) refers to an individual who may have difficulty processing problems such as academic areas of reading, writing or math. These difficulties can also interfere with higher level skills such as organization, time planning, abstract reasoning, long or short term memory and attention.
Attention deficit hyperactivity is not considered a learning difficulty, but research shows that between 30% and 50% of children have both ADHD and a specific learning disorder. When these two conditions occur together, learning can become even more challenging.
Coping with an Intellectual or Learning Disability can be difficult and may lead to the individual experiencing depression, anger, frustration, anxiety, or stress. As these mental health concerns can co-occur with ID and LD it is best to work with a clinician who is trained and knowledgeable in both areas in order to provide the best support and guidance.
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