The Relationship Between Intellectual Disability And ASD: What It Means For Your Child

Spread the love

Our understanding of autism has developed hugely in recent years, and better recognition of the condition has made it much easier for families to receive proper diagnosis and support. Being a spectrum disorder however means that no two cases are the same, so research continues to expand on intervention strategies that can be tailored to a specific set of needs.

We often get questions from parents around associated disabilities and related conditions. Intellectual disability is one of these. This article aims to give you a brief introduction to the relationship between autism and intellectual disability, and provide clarity for parents worried about their child’s diagnosis.

What is an intellectual disability?
What’s the connection between intellectual disability and autism?
How does an intellectual disability differ from autism?
How do I know if my child has an intellectual disability?
How does a diagnosed intellectual disability impact a child’s autism treatment?

What is an intellectual disability?

An intellectual disability is a type of disability which affects intellectual functioning (reasoning, learning and problem solving) and adaptive functioning, and is usually observed during development.

It’s important to recognise that, just like with autism, children with intellectual disabilities represent a highly diverse group of individuals. Children can be affected in different ways and in some areas of their ability and not in others. Typically these are classed as levels of severity – mild, moderate, severe or profound.

What’s the connection between intellectual disability and autism?

Around 1% of the general population have an intellectual disability, of which an estimated 10% have autism. But while many of the symptoms of ASD and intellectual disability are similar, scientific research continues into whether there is a common genetic link.

So although it is more likely that a child with autism has an intellectual disability than a child without autism, it is important to note that the two are not necessarily present together.

How does an intellectual disability differ from autism?

Intellectual disability and autism can both impact a child’s speech, cognitive skills and social interaction, which is why diagnosis can often be difficult particularly in severe autism cases. However, while autism can impact a child’s development in certain aspects, intellectual disability tends to impact their speed of learning overall.

In general, an intellectual disability diagnosis relates specifically to children with an IQ of 70 or lower, whereas children with autism have a range of IQ. For example, a child with severe Asperger’s symptoms may have difficulty with socialisation and speech, but their IQ (and general cognitive development) is otherwise average or in some cases above average.

How do I know if my child has an intellectual disability?

An evaluation by a clinical psychologist who is specifically evaluating for intellectual disability is the only reliable way of knowing if your child has an intellectual disability. They’ll assess cognitive skills (known commonly as IQ), interview you and any teachers to find out what you’ve observed, before bringing this information together to make their analysis.

Children with autism will also need to be tested with a consideration of their autism diagnosis due to interfering behaviours or a lack of motivation to respond. For example, they may require special testing conditions, as the wrong environment can cause stress and make them test poorly. Ask for support and take time to understand the criteria for diagnosis, and make sure the testing of intellectual disability is appropriate to autism and is using the latest methods.

How does a diagnosed intellectual disability impact a child’s autism treatment?

Although we don’t know the genetic link between the two conditions, it is commonly accepted that they have significantly similar symptoms and that it’s therefore useful to look at these symptoms together when it comes to treatment. In some ways, this approach is misleading.

Because intellectual disability impacts overall speed of learning, it’s vital that it is diagnosed and treated separately to a previous autism diagnosis. This is so that an individual program of education and support can be designed to support the needs and deficiencies in skills that specifically occur due to the intellectual disability.

Article Originally Published herehttp://thinkinc.me/blog-post/the-relationship-between-intellectual-disability-and-asd-what-it-means-for-your-child/

Welcome to Baby Arabia