The treatment needs of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities have caught a great deal of attention in recent years. The Department of Human Services describes intellectual disability (ID) as having significantly sub-average intellectual functioning, typically two standard deviations below the mean IQ (70 or below), and developmental disability (DD) as “a severe, chronic disability attributable to a mental or physical impairment or a combination of mental and physical impairments”. While many ID/DD have no cure, support services are available to help enable the person to prosper throughout the various aspects of their life.
Diagnosing ID/DD in Children
A child’s physical and behavioral characteristics are usually the first indication of ID/DD. If you believe your child has an intellectual or developmental disability, a prompt, thorough assessment is needed. Diagnosing these disabilities during childhood can be life changing because conditions like hyperthyroidism are treatable if action is taken early. You should first contact your child’s health care provider for more information on how to start the assessment process.
For children aged three or older, you may also contact their local school system. As a part of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), your child’s local school system can provide help in diagnosing and evaluating his/her educational needs, ensuring that they get the proper support that they need. While at home, there are things you can do to help your child as well:
- Learn everything you can about your child’s ID/DD
- Help your child by allowing him/her to challenge themselves and encourage independence
- Encourage your child to participate in group activities to better develop their social skills
- Join an online forum or a club with other parents of children with intellectual or developmental disabilities.
- You will be able to share ideas and get advice and support.
Treatment for Adults
Adults with ID/DD can present an array of challenges that differ from those of a child. Because of an advance in medicine and public policy, adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities are living longer, happier, healthier lives. However, adults with ID/DD are still more susceptible to chronic health conditions at younger ages than other adults because of external lifestyle factors as well as biological factors.
To help loved ones, there are various programs that provide personalized services for adults with ID/DD:
- Host Homes
- Community-based Residences
- Day Programs
- Vocational Services
- Hourly Supports
- Case Management
There are also organizations dedicated to helping you to find available support services in your community.
Because certain conditions are strongly associated with adults with ID/DD (i.e. dental disease, functional decline, obesity), tapping into these resources is a way to help provide adequate support.
A collaborative approach has proven to be the most beneficial for helping persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Caregivers can provide a great source of personal and practical information, as well as connect patients with community resources and funding. Because of the complex needs of individuals with ID/DD, great collaborative communication can help loved ones receive the help that they need.