Intellectual Development Disorder

What is it?

Intellectual development disorder (IDD) is a neuro-developmental disorder characterized by deficits in general intellectual functioning such as reasoning, planning, judgment, abstract thinking, academic learning and experiential learning. Children with intellectual development disorder often have difficulty with simple tasks of daily living that children typically do not experience. The symptoms of IDD were formerly characterized as “mental retardation.”

Signs and Symptoms

A child with IDD may score below 70 on a standardized IQ test. He will also exhibit deficiencies in two or more specific areas of adaptive behavior, such as communication skills, interpersonal skills, or daily living skills like getting dressed and using the bathroom. Intellectual development disorder usually happens before birth unless it is accounted for by a specific injury or toxic exposure before the age of 18.

IDD can lead to impairments in practical, social and academic functioning.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Intellectual development disorder is a lifelong disorder. It is treated through management and rehabilitation programs (including special education programs) aimed at helping children with the disorder acquire skills so they can live healthy, happy, relatively independent lives.

What are the risk factors for children?

Children with intellectual development disorder learn more slowly than typically developing children. These learning deficits apply to many kinds of learning and across different developmental stages. Young children with the disorder may learn to sit up, crawl, walk or talk later than other children. Most have difficulties developing communication skills as well as trouble interpreting and applying new information. These children often have trouble keeping up in school.

Older children with intellectual development disorder may demonstrate deficits in memory, social, and problem-solving skills. A lack of social inhibitions may also be a sign that a child has this disorder—not because the child is “acting out” or “rebelling,” but because he has difficulties interpreting signs of appropriate behavior in certain situations.

Risk factors include genetic syndromes, brain malformations, environmental influences like alcohol or toxins, labor and delivery-related issues, traumatic brain injury, infections, seizure disorders, social deprivation, and more.