Intellectual Disability: Types, Symptoms, Causes

Intellectual disability, also known as general learning disability and mental retardation (MR), is a condition characterized by significant limitation both in intellectual functioning (reasoning, learning, problem solving) and in adaptive behavior which covers a range of every day, social and practical skills.

Symptoms of Intellectual Disability

  • Delays in reaching, or failure to achieve milestones in motor skills development (sitting, crawling, walking)
  • Slowness learning to talk, or continued difficulties with speech and language skills after starting to talk
  • Difficulty with self-help and self-care skills (e.g., getting dressed, washing, and feeding themselves)
  • Poor planning or problem-solving abilities
  • Behavioral and social problems
  • Failure to grow intellectually, or continued infant-like behavior
  • Problems keeping up in school
  • Failure to adapt or adjust to new situations
  • Difficulty understanding and following social rules

intellectual disability

Prevalence of Intellectual Disability

  1. Intellectual disability affects about 2–3% of the general population
  2. 75% to 90% of the affected people have mild intellectual disability
  3. Non-syndromic, cases account for 30–50% of these cases
  4. About 25% of cases are caused by a genetic disorder
  5. About 5% of cases are inherited from parents

Disability Certificate for Intellectual Disability

To start the process of getting disability certificate, you should contact your nearest government hospital.

Disability Calculation

The intellectual disability calculation is based on VSMS score. The following are used for disability calculation:

  1. VSMS score 0-20: Profound Disability – 100%
  2. VSMS score 21-35: Severe Disability – 90%
  3. VSMS score 36-54: Moderate Disability – 75%
  4. VSMS score 55-69: Mild Disability – 50%
  5. VSMS score 70-84: Borderline Disability – 25%

Age for Certification

The minimum age for certification is one (01) completed year. Children above one year and up to the age of 5 years are given a diagnosis as Global Developmental Delay (GDD). Children above the age of 5 years are given a diagnosis and certificate as Intellectual Disability.

Medical Authority for Disability Certificate

The Medical Superintendent or Chief Medical Officer or Civil Surgeon or any other equivalent authority as notified by the State Government shall be the head of the Medical Board. The Authority shall comprise of:

  1. The Medical Superintendent or Chief Medical Officer or Civil Surgeon or any other equivalent authority as notified by the State Government
  2. Pediatrician or Pediatric Neurologist (where available)/ Psychiatrist or Physician (if age > 18years)
  3. Clinical or Rehabilitation Psychologist
  4. Psychiatrist

Validity of Certificate

Temporary certificate for children less than 5 years: The certificate will be valid for maximum 3 years/ 5 years of age (whichever is earlier).

For children more than 5 years: The certificate will mention a renewal age. The certificate will have to be renewed at age of 5 years, 10 years and 18 years. The certificate issued at 18 years age will be valid lifelong.

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4 thoughts on “Intellectual Disability: Types, Symptoms, Causes”

  1. Sir,
    Myself Benu Chhetri a widow i am writing this for my daughter Christy Chettri she is 80 percentage intellectual disable as per doctor s certificate , i am not well aware of the govt scheme which my daughter can avail , hence it is appreciate if i can get a necessary information and helps to place my daughter for the schemes which rightfully available for her from the govt.

  2. Please guide for govt schemes for 12 year boy with intellectual disability. This will help him.

  3. My son is 20 years old with intellectual disability. Please guide for govt schemes, which will help me out.


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