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Understanding Persons with Intellectual Disabilities

Running head: UNDERSTANDING PERSONS WITH INTELLECTUAL Understanding Persons with Intellectual Disabilities Abstract Intellectual disability, autism, severe disabilities, and deaf and blindness, all these are different disabilities that fall under the umbrella of Special Education. As a special educator it is very critical for one to learn about all the different disabilities, to know about the causes and the characteristics. Students with disabilities are evaluated by their school to determine if they are eligible for special education services or not.

If they are eligible, then the school determines what services the student will receive. Understanding Persons with Intellectual Disabilities This paper is about the definitions, characteristics, and causes of intellectual disability, traumatic brain injury, autism, severe disabilities, and deaf-blindness. Intellectual disability is a term used when a person has certain limitations in mental functioning and in skills such as communication, taking care of him or herself, and social skills. These limitations will cause a child to learn and develop more slowly than a typical child.

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Children with intellectual disabilities (sometimes called cognitive disabilities or mental retardation) may take longer to learn to speak, walk, and to take care of their personal needs. They are also likely to have trouble learning in school. They can learn but it takes them much longer. There are many cause of intellectual disability, to name a few: •Problems during pregnancy, if a baby does not develop fully in the mother’s womb, it can cause intellectual disability. •A woman who drinks alcohol or gets an infection like rubella during pregnancy may have a baby with intellectual disability. Problems at birth, if a baby does not get get enough oxygen, that many cause intellectually disability. •Health problems, if the pregnant woman has health problems like whooping cough, measles, or meningitis, malnutrition and not getting enough medical care, that can lead to a baby having intellectual disabilities. The characteristics of intellectual disabilities are evident in the development period. A person must show both a borderline or mild IQ and a deficit in adaptive behavior in the developmental period in order to be diagnosed with an intellectual disability.

Young children who display these characteristics may take longer to walk and speak. School-Aged children may struggle in school and display memory and attention problems. Autism as defined by the Autism Society of America (ASA) is a complex developmental disability that typically appears during the first three years of life and is the result of neurological disorder that affects the normal functioning of the brain, impacting development in the areas of social interaction and communication skills. ” The research indicates that the cause of autism is likely biological, but this may not be the only cause.

Evidence has shown that 1 in 3 people diagnosed with autism have had around 1-2 epileptic seizures by the time they reach adulthood. Autism tends to run in families, pointing to a possible genetic cause. Scientists have found abnormal levels of neurotransmitters in the brain such as serotonin. Most signs and characteristics of autism are evident in the areas of speech or communication (verbal or non verbal). Both children and adults with autism typically show difficulties in verbal and non-verbal communication, social interaction, and leisure or play activities.

Many of the signs or symptoms of autism begin presenting themselves between the ages of 2 and 6. Other characteristics include, no fear of danger, over or under sensitivity to pain, they may avoid eye contact and at times these children prefer to be by themselves. They have difficulty expressing what they want or need, they try to use gestures. Traumatic brain injury is an acquired injury to the brain caused by an external physical force, resulting in total or partial functional disability or psychosocial impairment.

Traumatic brain injury does not apply to brain injuries that are congenital or degenerative, or brain injuries induced by birth trauma. Traumatic brain injury is caused by head injuries (open or closed) depending on where the injury is located. An open head injury is the result of penetration of the skull, this may be caused by a bullet or a forceful blow to the head, with a hard or sharp object. Closed head injuries are usually caused by car and bicycle accidents, falls and accidents while playing sports. Shaken baby syndrome is a common cause of traumatic brain njury in children. A lot of people have shaken the children hard and caused traumatic brain injury unintentional. Students who have sustained brain injury are often inappropriately placed in classes with students who are mentally retarded and emotionally disturbed. There are many characteristics of traumatic brain injury, to name a few: •Severe recent memory disorder with poor carry over of new learning. •Neurological impairment is identifiable from “hard” signs as well as soft signs. •Brain dysfunction as well as memory loss. Later onset. •Peaks and valleys of performance. IDEA defines deaf-blindness as non-comitant hearing and visual impairments, the combination of which causes such severe communication and other developmental and educational needs that they cannot be accommodated in special education programs solely for children with deafness or children with disabilities. When someone is born with combined sight and hearing difficulties this is called congenital deaf-blindness. Conditions that cause congenital deaf-blindness include rubella and charge.

If the combined sight and hearing loss occurs later in life this is called acquitted deaf-blindness. This may be due to an accident, illness or as a result of aging. In some case, people may be born with a genetic condition such as usher syndrome, which means that they may progressively lose their sight. The following are characteristics of Deaf-Blindness: •Cognitive – Inability to perform basic academic task and difficulty in performing functional life skills. •Communication – Difficult with spoken language (non-verbal), limited vocabulary. Behavior – Exhibits low frustration tolerance. •Difficulty in demonstrating age- appropriate behavior. •Exhibits problems in adjusting to change •Exhibits inappropriate behaviors in touching and smelling objects or people. People with severe disabilities are those who traditionally have been labeled as having severe to profound mental retardation. These people do require ongoing, extensive support in more than one major and life activity in order to participate in integrated community settings and enjoy the quality of life available to individuals with fewer or no disabilities.

Causes of severe disabilities: •No identifiable cause 40% of the time. •Genetic metabolic disorders. •Brain malformations. •Most known causes are due to prenatal biomedical factors. Children and youth with severe or multiple disabilities may exhibit a wide range of characteristics, some may include the following: •Limited speech or communication •Difficulty in basic physical mobility. •Tendency to forget skills through disuse. •Trouble generalizing skills from one situation to another. •A need for support in major life activities. •Unable to perform self-care independently. Catheterization. •Tube feeding (G-tube or G-button) •Motor problems/orthopedic problems/cerebral palsy •Display seizure activity. •Difficulty with bowel and / or bladder control. •Difficulty in administering self care. In conclusion, there are lots of different disabilities our there, but the truth of the matter is that it does not matter what kind of disability a student has, they need to be taught because all children can learn regardless of their disability. Some of the disabilities may require a long time and a lot of patience, but eventually they can get it.


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