Mother and Downs Syndrome son with laptop


Intellectual disability can be described as a permanent condition of the human brain. It is often identified by these three main characteristics.

  1. Major difficulty in intellectual activities such as thinking, remembering and learning new things.
  2. Major difficulty when compared with people of one’s own age in the skills of daily community living, such as communicating with other people, taking care of one’s self or one’s home, or performing other types of expected activities.
  3. These difficulties were first noticed while the person was still in the developmental period (it could be under the age of 18, or 21, depending on the criteria being used).

Intellectual disability starts any time before a child turns 18 and is characterized by problems with both intellectual functioning or intelligence – which includes the ability to learn, reason, problem-solve, and other skills – and adaptive behavior, which includes everyday social and life skills.

Cognitive Functions

Individuals with intellectual disabilities tend to have below-average IQ, which affects their reasoning, decision-making, and problem-solving skills.

Adaptive Functions

These functions include essential daily activities, such as communication skills, independent living, and self-care.

What You Need to Know

  1. A person with an intellectual disability is just like everyone else – treat them as you would like to be treated
  2. Be considerate of the extra time it might take for a person with an intellectual disability to do or say something
  3. Be patient and give your undivided attention, especially with someone who speaks slowly or with great effort.
  4. Allow more time and greater flexibility for training and induction.
  5. Keep the pressure of any given situation to a minimum as stress can affect a person’s concentration and performance.
  6. Keep instructions simple and in bite-size pieces use demonstration and increase complexity as progress is made.
  7. Be aware that a person with intellectual disability may be less aware of social cues and may have less developed social skills.
  8. Give verbal and written instructions or try giving examples to illustrate ideas and summarize ideas often.

In Africa, little research has been done on intellectual disabilities. Hence, AADISAO dedicates itself to contributing to scientific research in this area.

Our Mission Statement

AADISAO’s mission is to promote inclusive disability policies and practices, support collaborations and partnerships while advancing education, interdisciplinary training, leadership, and sound research on disability issues in Africa. [ About Us ]