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Intellectual or Developmental Disabilities

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On October 6, 2010, President Barrack Obama signed into law Rosa's Law. Rosa's Law changes references in federal law from mental retardation to intellectual disability and references to a mentally retarded individual to an individual with an intellectual disability. For more information, read Rosa's Law. Rosa's Law specifically pertains to federal employers. Most public and private organizations will be expected to replace the term "mental retardation" with "intellectual disability."

According to the President's Committee for People with Intellectual Disabilities, an estimated seven to eight million Americans of all ages experience intellectual disability. Intellectual disabilities affect about one in ten families in the United States. http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/pcpid/

An intellectual disability is a disability that involves significant limitations both in intellectual functioning and in adaptive behavior. Adaptive behaviors include many everyday social and practical skills such as interpersonal and communication skills, social problem solving and responsibility, the use of time and money, as well as daily personal care and safety. Limitations in individuals often coexist with strengths and will vary from individual to individual. This disability originates before the age of 18 and encompasses a wide range of conditions, types, and levels. Intellectual disability is caused by factors that can be physical, genetic, and/or social. http://www.aaidd.org/

Additional Helpful Terminology

Developmental disabilities that may also include an intellectual disability are briefly described below. Intellectual disabilities can also be caused by a head injury, stroke or illness. For some no cause is found. Intellectual disabilities will vary in degree and effect from person to person, just as individual capabilities vary considerably among people who do not have an intellectual disability. People should not make generalizations about the needs of persons with intellectual disabilities. In some instances an intellectual disability will not be obvious from a person's appearance, nor will it be accompanied by a physical disability. Persons with intellectual disabilities successfully perform a wide range of jobs, and can be dependable workers. (EEOC, 2011)

Autism: Individuals with disabilities on the autism spectrum may have complex developmental disabilities that typically appear during the first three years of life. These disabilities are the result of a neurological disorder that affects the normal functioning of the brain, impacting development in the areas of social interaction and communication skills. Both children and adults with disabilities on the autism spectrum typically show difficulties in verbal and non-verbal communication, social interactions, and play or leisure activities. http://www.autism-society.org

Cerebral Palsy is a condition, sometimes thought of as a group of disorders, that can involve brain and nervous system functions such as movement, learning, hearing, seeing, and thinking. Cerebral palsy is caused by injuries or abnormalities of the brain. Most of these problems occur as the baby grows in the womb, but they can happen at any time during the first two years of life, while the baby's brain is still developing. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/guide/

Down Syndrome is a genetic disorder that causes lifelong intellectual disabilities, developmental delays and other complications. Down syndrome varies in severity, so developmental problems range from moderate to serious. Down syndrome is the most common genetic cause of severe intellectual disabilities in children. Individuals with Down syndrome have a higher incidence of heart defects, leukemia, sleep apnea, and dementia later in life. http://www.TheArc.org

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome is a condition that results from prenatal alcohol exposure. It is a cluster of mental and physical birth defects that include intellectual disabilities, growth deficits, central nervous system dysfunction, craniofacial abnormalities and behavioral instabilities. Fetal Alcohol Effect is a less severe set of the same symptoms. It is the only form of intellectual disability that can be totally prevented and eradicated. http://www.nofas.org

Fragile X Syndrome is a hereditary condition that can cause learning problems ranging from subtle learning disabilities and a normal IQ, to severe intellectual disabilities and autism. Individuals with Fragile X Syndrome may also have physical and behavioral disorders, and speech and language delays. http://nfxf.org

Prader-Willi Syndrome (PWS) is the most common known genetic cause of life-threatening obesity in children. PWS typically causes low muscle tone, short stature if not treated with growth hormone, and a chronic feeling of hunger that, coupled with a metabolism that utilizes drastically fewer calories than normal, can lead to excessive eating and life-threatening obesity. PWS is also characterized by motor development delays along with some behavior problems and unique medical issues. Intellectual deficits can be present to varying degrees, but even higher functioning individuals will have learning difficulties. http://www.pwsausa.org

Accommodations are evaluated on a case-by-case basis. We have compiled a non-inclusive list of limitations that result in common accommodation situations. In addition, you can find more information at JAN's A to Z Webpage at: http://askjan.org/media/atoz.htm.

Please select the limitation that corresponds with the individual needing an accommodation below.

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