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What You Should Know About Individuals With Intellectual Disabilities

By Jerry Murphy

Developmental (intellectual) disability have traditionally been referred to as mental retardation. Due to the stigma associated with this term, advocacy groups have pushed for the adoption of the current alternative names. The condition manifests as varying degrees of cognitive impairment and maladaptive behaviors. In order to be better placed to help individuals with intellectual disabilities in Portsmouth, VA, there are a number of things that we need to understand.

A majority of the cases of developmental abnormalities have no known cause. Existing theories implicate genetic, social and environmental influence. The good news is that most of them are classified as mild. This category includes persons that have an IQ of between 50 and 70. Children in this category typically show deficiencies in cognitive skill development and social behaviors in the classroom setting but cope quite well outside the classroom.

Children considered to have intellectual disability should not be mixed with typically functioning peers. There is a cognitive gap between the two groups and the child who has disability would always have to play catch-up if they were to be taught together. Due to the limitations that exist among these children, teachers need to adopt methods that will help affected students get life skills at the very least. The emphasis should be on self-care and hygiene, vocational training, money concepts, time concepts, and leisure activities among others.

Accommodation is necessary to make it possible for the persons who have special needs to enjoy the employment opportunities that are available to everyone else. Accommodation is simply the act of making it easier for these persons to carry out specific duties in the work place. They extent of help required varies depending on the severity of the condition. Examples include providing reading and material interpretation assistance, demonstrating required techniques and making interviews more practically rather than theoretical.

In adulthood, many of them lead independent lives. The main problem is that many are unemployed or underemployed in spite of their desire to take up jobs. There has been significant discrimination over the years with regard to the hiring process in many companies where applicants known or perceived to have special needs are discriminated against. This has slowly been changing thanks to efforts by advocacy groups.

Employers should not divulge the medical information of employees with special needs unless under special circumstances. These include, for example, when there is a need to initiate emergency treatment and such information is deemed necessary. It may also be required by insurance companies when one is making a claim.

In the interview, it is considered discriminatory to ask applicants about whether or not they have intellectual disability. If the prospective employee discloses this information on their own volition, both the employer and the employee should work together to come up with accommodative strategies that will facilitate the duties to be carried out.

Employers should be proactive in preventing harassment. This can be done by having written policies in the workplace, preparing employee handbooks, having regular staff meetings to address the issue and periodic training. It should be made clear that harassment cases are to be reported to the manager. Corrective action should be taken promptly when reports are received.

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