If you are a person with an intellectual or developmental disability you  may be eligible for up to $2,788 / month in disability payments. Consider carefully the requirements to obtain such.

The term ‘mental retardation’ is no longer used

The term ‘mental retardation’ is being used less and less in North America. Many people prefer to use alternative and less insulting terms, such as developmental disability or intellectual disability. Even the non-profit organization that advocates for those with mental retardation changed its name in 2006 from the American Association on Mental Retardation, to the American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities. 

The Association’s goals are to

  1. Enhance the capacity of professionals who work with individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
  2. Promote the development of a society that fully includes individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
  3. Sustain an effective, responsive, well managed, and responsibly-governed organization.
To be diagnosed with intellectual or developmental disability a child must meet certain criteria.
  1. The term intellectual disability covers the same population of individuals who were diagnosed previously with mental retardation in number, kind, level, type, duration of disability, and the need of people with this disability for individualized services and supports. Furthermore, every individual who is or was eligible for a diagnosis of mental retardation is eligible for a diagnosis of intellectual disability.
  2. Developmental Disabilities” is an umbrella term that includes intellectual disability but also includes other disabilities that are apparent during childhood.Developmental disabilities are severe chronic disabilities that can be cognitive or physical or both. The disabilities appear before the age of 22 and are likely to be lifelong.Some developmental disabilities are largely physical issues, such as cerebral palsy or epilepsy. Some individuals may have a condition that includes a physical and an intellectual disability, for example Down syndrome or fetal alcohol syndrome.Intellectual disability encompasses the “cognitive” part of this definition, that is, a disability that is broadly related to thought processes. Because intellectual and other developmental disabilities usually co-occur, intellectual disability professionals often work with people who have both types of disabilities. The most common causes of intellectual disability present at birth are fetal alcohol syndrome, Down syndrome and Fragile X syndrome. Other common causes are genetic conditions, problems during pregnancy or during birth, exposure to toxins or certain diseases, iodine deficiency, and malnutrition.
Are intellectual disabilities determined only by an IQ test? 
  1. While not the only test, the IQ test is a  major tool in measuring intellectual functioning. It measures the mental capacity for learning, reasoning, problem solving, etc. An IQ of less than 70—or as high as 75—indicates a borderline limitation in intellectual functioning.
  2. An IQ of 50-69 suggests mild mental functioning, an IQ of 35-49 falls into the moderate scale, and an IQ of 20-34 is labeled severe. If an individual’s IQ is below 20 he/she is categorized as having a profound intellectual disability.
  3. Other tests determine limitations in adaptive behavior, which covers three types of skills:
    • Conceptual skills—language and literacy; money, time, and number concepts; and self-direction
    • Social skills—interpersonal skills, social responsibility, self-esteem, gullibility, naïveté (i.e., wariness), social problem solving, and the ability to follow rules, obey laws, and avoid being victimized
    • Practical skills—activities of daily living (personal care), occupational skills, healthcare, travel/transportation, schedules/routines, safety, use of money, use of the telephone
  4. Finally, there must be evidence that the limitations in IQ and adaptive skills were present before the age of 18 years old.

There are no medications specifically for intellectual disabilities.

There are many agencies that provide a wide variety of assistance 

An excellent resource is the American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities. AAIDD, the world’s largest and oldest organization of intellectual disability professionals, has played a major role in evolving ideas about and approaches to intellectual disability. In fact, the Association, founded in 1876, has published 11 editions of its definitional manual between 1908 and 2010, each edition containing the latest scientific understanding of the condition.

There are other resources, of course, from privately run agencies and state-run agencies, to non-profit and for-profit agencies. There are many different ways to get help.The goal of assistance for those with intellectual and developmental disabilities is independence. Depending upon the level of intellectual and/or developmental disability, independence may mean independence while getting dressed or brushing one’s teeth to independence while living alone or raising a family. As noted, the goal is to help the individual to obtain as much independence—and dignity—as possible.