About intellectual disability
Teenagers 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. They may find it difficult to concentrate.
Teenagers with intellectual disability often 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. A number of teenagers may also struggle with emotions and behaviour. They may be anxious, sad, or irritable. They may have be restless, over-active, or easily distracted and need support with organisation.
What might be some strengths?
- Teenagers with an intellectual disability may find is easier to remember visual information, such as written letters or numbers, and pictures. This may mean that work presented visually may help some teenagers learn.
- Similarly, teenagers with an intellectual disability may be able to recognise words, letters and numbers and name them aloud. This may mean that some teenagers with an intellectual disability are able to read words that rely more on recognition than on ‘sounding out’.
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
Best practice tips
Provide a supportive environment
Reduce background noise when giving instructions
Planning and organisation
School excursions or camps
Other co-occurring conditions
Visit our resources page for a range of resources that can help to create inclusive education environments for students with disabilities and developmental challenges. Some particularly relevant resources for students with intellectual delay include: