Glossary of Medical Terms

Intellectual Disability

Intellectual disability (formerly called mental retardation) is a decreased ability to think and learn. It's caused by a problem with how the brain works.

The diagnosis is based on intelligence quotient (IQ) tests and a child's learning problems.

The disability can range from mild to severe. People who have intellectual disability may have a hard time with:

  • Learning, especially complex tasks.

  • Language.

  • Self-care (in cases of severe intellectual disability). 

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