A developmental disability is one that prohibits or interferes with normal developmental functioning or growth. Developmental disabilities are attributable to intellectual disability, autism, cerebral palsy, epilepsy, or disabling conditions found to be closely related to intellectual disability.
In order to be considered a developmental disability, the disability must originate before eighteen years of age, be likely to continue indefinitely, and constitute a substantial disability for the individual.
The following are descriptions and characterizations of intellectual and developmental disabilities. However, it should be understood that all persons are individuals and should not be limited by such descriptions. Las Trampas firmly believes that all individuals have the capability to learn and grow as individuals throughout their lifespan.
Intellectual Disability (ID)
Intellectual Disability refers to substantial limitation in present functioning. It is characterized by significantly sub-average intellectual functioning, existing concurrently with related limitations in two or more of the following adaptive skill areas: communication, self-care, home living, social skills, community use, self-direction, health and safety, functional academics, leisure or work.
There are four degrees of severity specified: Mild, Moderate, Severe, and Profound. These classifications are based on a combination of IQ levels and demonstrated functional capabilities. The IQ level classifications are as follows:
|Mild Intellectual Disability||IQ level 50-55 to approximately 70|
|Moderate Intellectual Disability||IQ level 35-40 to 50-55|
|Severe Intellectual Disability||IQ level 20-25 to 35-40|
|Profound Intellectual Disability||IQ level below 20 or 25|
Mild Intellectual Disability
This group constitutes the largest segment (about 85%) of those with an Intellectual Disability. As a group, people with this level of Intellectual Disability typically develop social and communications skills during the preschool years (ages 0-5 years), have minimal impairment and sensorimotor areas, and often are not distinguishable from persons without Intellectual Disability until a later age. By their late teens, they can acquire academic skills up to approximately the sixth-grade level.
During their adult years, they usually achieve social and vocational skills adequate for minimum self-support, but may need supervision, guidance, and assistance, especially when under unusual social or economic stress. With appropriate supports, individuals with Mild Intellectual Disability can usually live successfully in the community, either independently or in supervised settings.
Moderate Intellectual Disability
This group constitutes about 10% of the entire population of people with Intellectual Disabilities. Most of the individuals with this level of Intellectual Disability acquire communication skills during early childhood years. They benefit from vocational training and, with moderate supervision, can attend to their personal care. They can also benefit from training in social and occupational skills, but are unlikely to progress beyond the second-grade level in academic subjects. They may learn to travel independently in familiar places.
In their adult years, the majority are able to perform work under supervision in the general workforce. They adapt well to life in the community, usually in supervised settings.
Severe Intellectual Disability
The group with Severe Intellectual Disability constitutes 3% to 4% of individuals with Intellectual Disability. During early childhood years, they acquire little or no communicative speech. During the school-age period, they may learn to talk and can be trained in elementary self-care skills. They profit to only a limited extent from instruction in pre-academic subjects, such as familiarity with the alphabet and simple counting, but can master skills such as learning sight reading of some survival words.
In their adult years, they may be able to perform simple tasks in closely supervised settings. Most adapt well to life in the community, in group homes, or with their families.
Profound Intellectual Disability
The group with Profound Intellectual Disability constitutes approximately 1% to 2% of people with an Intellectual Disability. Most individuals with this diagnosis have an identified neurological condition that accounts for their Intellectual Disability. During their childhood years, they display considerable impairments in sensorimotor functioning.
Optimal development may occur in a highly structured environment with constant aid and supervision and an individualized relationship with a caregiver. Motor development and self-care and communication skills may improve if appropriate training is provided. Some can perform simple tasks in closely supervised and sheltered settings.
Autism Spectrum Disorder
Autism Spectrum Disorder is characterized by severe and pervasive impairment in several areas of development. Each person with an Autism Spectrum Disorder will have her or his own individual pattern of autism which may have an onset at birth or develop later in childhood. Because symptoms vary in type and severity among affected individuals and are often a unique combination for each individual, the range can be associated with an unlimited spectrum, thus the term Autism Spectrum Disorder.
Among the spectrum, a variety of the following symptoms may be present:
- Qualitative impairment in social interactions
- Restricted, repetitive, and stereotyped patterns of behavior, interests, and activities
- Clinically significant impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning
- Qualitative impairments in communication such as a delay or lack of spoken language, inadequate speech, stereotyped and repetitive language or idiosyncratic language, and/or lack of varied, spontaneous social imitative play appropriate to developmental level
- Delays or abnormal functioning in at least one of the following areas, with onset prior to age 3 years: (1) social interaction, (2) language as used in social communication, or (3) symbolic or imaginative play
With most cases of Autistic Spectrum Disorder, there is an associated diagnosis of Intellectual Disability, which can range from mild to profound. Autism Spectrum Disorder is sometimes observed with a diverse group of other general medical conditions, including Rett’s Disorder, Childhood Disintegrative Disorder, Asperger’s Disorder, and Pervasive Developmental Disorder Not Otherwise Specified.
Cerebral Palsy is a non-progressive disorder of voluntary movement or posture that is caused by a malfunctioning of, or damage to, the brain occurring before birth, during birth, or within the first few years of life. Individuals with Cerebral Palsy may or may not have a concurrent intellectual disability.
Early treatment intervention for Cerebral Palsy may include development of normal postural reactions and postural tone against gravity for support and control of movement; counteracting the development of abnormal postural tone; giving the child, by means of handling and play, functional patterns that later will be used for feeding, dressing, washing, and other self-help activities; and to prevent the development of contractures and deformities.
Epilepsy refers to a wide variety of seizure conditions which oftentimes, depending on the type of seizure, result in physical convulsions of the body. A seizure involves a disruption of the normal activity of the brain through neuronal instability (excessive electrical discharge). The extent to which seizures affect brain functioning depends on both the duration and location within the brain:
- Simple partial seizures with elementary symptomology; consciousness is not impaired.
- Partial (focal) seizures that affect a specific part of one cerebral hemisphere and may evolve into secondarily generalized seizures.
- Generalized seizures that affect both cerebral hemispheres.
- Complex partial seizures involving more than one symptom (complex symptomology) and during which consciousness is impaired.
A primary concern with Epilepsy is the social stigma attached to the disorder, as it has a sudden onset where the individual is engaging in normal activities one minute and is totally nonfunctional the next. Individuals with Epilepsy may or may not have concurrent conditions such as intellectual disability or other physical limitations.