Mild Intellectual Disability

It is sometimes only when a child enters the school system, that it becomes apparent that they may be suffering from a mild intellectual disability.

mild intellectual disability

If the teacher suspects this may be the case, the school will discuss their concerns with parents and request that an assessment be done by a child psychologist. Formal diagnosis of a mild intellectual disability is important as it can result in extra government funding so that the school can better support your child’s learning and education.

Diagnosing a Mild Intellectual Disability

According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, intellectual disability is a neuro-developmental disorder with onset in the developmental period that includes both intellectual and adaptive functioning issues. In order for a diagnosis of intellectual disability to occur, two assessments are generally administered on the child including:

  • An Intelligence test (Intelligence quotient or IQ), using the Wechsler Intelligence Score for Children (WISC) or WPPSI (for children not yet attending primary school) or WAIS (for adults).
  • An Adaptive Functioning test (Adaptive Behaviour Assessment System or ABAS) or Vineland Adaptive Behaviour System (also known as VABS).

The goal of this assessment is to determine what level the child is intellectually, compared with other children of the same age. Additionally, these tests seek to determine the independence levels and social skills of the child, including communication, social participation, and independent living.

Once the scores of these tests have been determined, the school will then apply for verification of intellectual disability. Further information on this process can be found on the Queensland Government Education website in the Education Adjustment Program (EAP) Handbook. The reviewers follow a process of verification including:

  • Observations in the classroom environment;
  • Current school achievement;
  • Assessment results;
  • Background information from student and parent;
  • Data related to identified needs across the curriculum;
  • Interventions provided and outcomes to interventions.

Once the diagnosis has been verified, the school will work with the parents to implement a learning program suitable to the child. The government verifiers will generally specify review dates for the diagnosis as the child progresses through their education.

Similar processes exist for schools applying for additional funding for Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), Hearing Impairment, Physical Disability, Speech-Language Impairment, and also Vision Impairment.

Support for Your Family

Psychologists can assist in this process by administering the assessments, providing a written report on the results, and providing education to the family around intellectual disability and the process of diagnosis.

Psychologists may also provide ongoing therapy for the child and the family, to support them during the process and guide them with any additional issues they maybe experiencing.

Cassandra Gist Psychologist BrisbaneAuthor: Cassandra Gist, BPsych (Hons), MPsych, MAPS.

Brisbane Psychologist Cassandra Gist has a Masters in Health Psychology, and treats clients aged from two years old right through to adulthood. She is experienced in working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, as well as children and families affected by mild intellectual disability and conditions such as Autism.

To make an appointment with Brisbane Psychologist Cassandra Gist, try Online Booking – Loganholme or Online Booking – Mt Gravatt. Alternatively, you can call M1 Psychology (Loganholme) on (07) 3067 9129, or Vision Psychology (Mt Gravatt) on (07) 3088 5422.