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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).
ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical ReviewerJohn Pope, MD - Pediatrics
Specialist Medical ReviewerFred Volkmar, MD - Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
Last RevisedApril 3, 2012

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