• Zorah Hilvert-Bruce

Does my child have an intellectual disability?

Updated: Jun 28, 2019

All you need to know about Intellectual Disability.

About 3% of Australians have an intellectual disability (ID), making it the most common primary disability. Some children are born with this, while others may acquire one under the age of 18.

What does it mean if my child has an intellectual disability?

In a nutshell, this means your child will have significant difficulties in both intellectual functioning (e.g., communication, learning, problem solving) and adaptive behaviour (e.g., everyday social skills, routines, hygiene).


An ID can be either mild, moderate, severe, or profound. The more severe the disability, the more support your child will need in schools and daily living.


How do I know if my child has an intellectual disability?

For a proper comprehensive assessment and formalised diagnosis, your child will need to have a cognitive and adaptive assessment completed. However, there are many signs to look for in your child. For example, your child may:

  • Sit up, crawl, or walk later than other children

  • Learn to talk later or have trouble speaking

  • Have trouble understanding social rules

  • Have trouble seeing the consequences of their actions

  • Have trouble solving problems

  • Have trouble thinking logically

They may also have difficulty with:

  • Personal care skills (e.g. getting dressed, going to the bathroom, self-feeding, hygiene)

  • Communication and social skills (e.g. having conversations, using the phone) 

  • School or work skills

  • Learning routines

  • Being safe

  • Asking for help

  • Using money


If you suspect your child may have an ID, speak with your doctor or call us to arrange an initial appointment. Early detection is important to provide you and your child with the support they need.


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