​Intellectual disability is a developmental disorder and is defined based on three criteria:

  • Significant limitations in intelligence (classified as an IQ level of 70 or below)
  • Significant limitations in the skills needed to live and work in the community, including difficulties with communication, self-care, social skills, safety, and self-direction.
  • Limitations in intelligence and living skills are evident in the developmental period (i.e. before the person is aged 18 years)

A person with intellectual disability faces more difficulty than others in grasping concepts and solving problems. They may also experience accompanying development disabilities such as autism, as well as underlying mental disorders that can seriously affect their quality of life, family relationships, personal care and independence.

It can be challenging to find the right combination of support for the individual because of how the disability affects the person’s limited cognitive abilities and attention, functional and communication difficulties.

As such, a proper assessment is carried out by an inter-disciplinary team of mental health professionals, so that appropriate treatment can be given. Treatment includes medication, behavioural therapy and occupational therapy. The treatment plans usually look into addressing sensory issues, improving communication skills, advising on environmental manipulation, changing maladaptive behaviour and optimising functional capabilities.​