It can be due to multiple causes (metabolic, infectious, chromosomal, etc.) and originate at different times (before the baby is born, during delivery or due to a serious illness in childhood).
Social and practical skills are affected, i.e. daily living skills needed for living, working and playing in the community: communication, social and interpersonal skills, self-care, domestic life, self-control, basic academic skills (reading, writing and basic mathematics), work, leisure, health and safety. A limitation in adaptive skills is considered to exist if there is a deficit in at least two of these areas compared to children of the same age and culture.
It should be noted that intellectual disability is expressed when a person with significant limitations interacts with the environment, depending both on the person him/herself and on the barriers or obstacles presented by the environment. Depending on whether the environment is more or less facilitating, the disability will be expressed differently. Thus, an individual’s intellectual disability is not a fixed entity that is impossible to change. It is modified by the individual’s biological growth and development and by the availability and quality of the support he/she receives, in a constant and permanent interaction between the individual and his/her environment.
Within this category, special mention should be made of Down syndrome, the main cause of intellectual disability and the most common human genetic alteration. This genetic alteration causes them, in general, to learn more slowly than the rest of the population, and most have mild to moderate cognitive impairment. The most common deficits are:
Although pre-language behavior such as babbling appears normal in infants with Down syndrome, difficulties and delays in language development related to phonological and syntactic aspects of speech appear very early. The most affected aspects are articulation, phonology, vocal imitation, average utterance length and expressive syntax.
They present difficulties in retaining information, both due to limitations in receiving and processing it (short-term memory) and in consolidating and retrieving it (long-term memory). All this also translates into difficulties in tasks where working memory is needed.
It is essential to work with them since they are very young. For this purpose, there are early intervention programs carried out by a multidisciplinary team (pediatrician, neuropediatrician, psychologists, psychopedagogues, etc.), always with the active participation of the family, which stimulate all areas: psychomotor, cognitive, linguistic and socio-affective development.
The ultimate goal is to make these people as independent and autonomous as possible and to integrate them into society as a productive member of it, being able to perform certain jobs perfectly.