About intellectual disability
Children with intellectual disability may have challenges with thinking skills, such as reasoning, problem solving, planning, and judgement (e.g. understanding and predicting risks). They can also have difficulties with academic and everyday skills (e.g. reading, telling the time, doing maths, and handling money). They find it harder to learn, which means they need extra time and help to learn new skills.
Children with intellectual disability also frequently experience communication and social challenges. They may seem socially immature for their age, and they may find it difficult to understand body language (e.g. facial expression, gestures). They may find instructions with several steps hard to follow. They can find it challenging to manage their emotions and behaviour. They may tire easily and find some motor skills difficult. Some may also be restless, over-active, or easily distracted and need support with organisation.
What might be some strengths?
- Many children with intellectual disability enjoy play, and learning through play.
- Children may show lots of interest in activities that involve play.
- They may have good fine and gross motor skill development through play.
Where might you provide support?
- They might need more time to think and understand. They might not understand instructions if they are given a lot of information at once.
- They may take longer to learn new skills. Structure and routine may help them.
- They can be very social and friendly, and like talking and spending time with other people. However, sometimes, they might stand too close or be overfamiliar with people.
Consider adjustments to communication style
Consider adjustments to activities and rules
Provide lots of opportunities to practise
Provide opportunities to work with their classmates
Best practice tips
Provide a supportive environment.
Reduce background noise when giving instructions.
Simplify instructions and limit the information given at once.
Other co-occurring conditions
Visit our resources page for a range of resources that can help to create inclusive education environments for children with disabilities and developmental challenges. AllPlay Learn’s stories can help children with intellectual disability become familiar with primary school and some of the skills they need to participate in these settings. Other relevant resources for children with intellectual disability are: