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DSM 5 terms Mental retardation as intellectual disability Individuals with intellectual disability experience deficits in reasoning, planning, problem-solving, judgment, academic learning (learning through traditional teaching methods), and experiential learning (ability to learn through observation, their experiences, and trial and error approach).

With these deficits they experience impairment in adaptive functioning that is the ability to adapt to their environment, learn things for independent daily functioning, limited abilities to learn life skills which imitates the age-appropriate growth.

intellectual disability DSM 5

There are four classifications of intellectual disability DSM 5 presented with IQ 

1)Mild intellectual disability (50-55 to approximately 70)

2)moderate intellectual disability (35-40 to 50-55)

3)severe intellectual disability (20-25 to 35-40)

4)profound intellectual disability (below 20-25)

Let’s look into these four classifications:

1) Mild intellectual disability:

Individuals with Mild intellectual disability are  Referred to as ‘educable’ as they can acquire educational skills approximately till 6th grade and can develop social and communication skills too. They can live a manageable life through social and vocation skills adequate for self-support but they may need supervision, guidance, and assistance in stressful conditions.

2) Moderate intellectual disability:

Individuals with Moderate intellectual disability are referred to as ‘trainable’. This term does not refer to individuals with moderate intellectual disabilities as not being able to get benefited from educational programs. Individuals with this level of functioning develop communication skills and if they get vocational training, moderate supervision they can attend to their personal care. They may learn to travel independently in familiar places. During adolescence, they may experience difficulty in social interaction. 

3) Severe intellectual disability:

Individuals with Severe intellectual disability develop little or no communication skills in their early childhood but with Supportive training they may talk and can get trained in self-care skills. They may get benefit from pre-academic training which limits to learning alphabets and simple counting. During their adult years they may be able to perform simple tasks with supervision and may lead a good life with supportive groups or families.

4) Profound intellectual disability:

Individuals with Mild intellectual disability have an IQ level of below 20-25 and most of them are diagnosed with some neurological condition which resulted in intellectual disability. During the early year they show impairment in sensorimotor functioning. Positive development will be there with constant aid and supervision. Motor functioning, communication, and self-care may improve with appropriate training and support environment is provided.

(intellectual disability DSM 5)

Many different conditions we can get confused with this disability, therefore, make a diagnosis of intellectual disability one has to fulfill the following criteria as per intellectual disability DSM 5, these are:

Intellectual developmental disorder is a disorder with onset during the developmental period that includes both intellectual and adaptive functioning deficits in conceptual, social, and practical domains. The following three criteria must be met:

  • Deficits in intellectual functions, such as reasoning, problem-solving, planning, abstract thinking, judgment, academic learning, and learning from experience, confirmed by both clinical assessment and individualized, standardized intelligence testing.
  • Deficits in adaptive functioning that result in failure to meet developmental and sociocultural standards for personal independence and social responsibility. Without ongoing support, the adaptive deficits limit functioning in one or more activities of daily life, such as communication, social participation, and independent living, across multiple environments, such as home, school, work, and community.
  • Onset of intellectual and adaptive deficits during the developmental period.

Note: The diagnostic term intellectual disability DSM 5 is the equivalent term for the ICD-11 diagnosis of intellectual developmental disorders.

Although the term intellectual disability DSM 5 is used throughout this manual, both terms are used in the title to clarify relationships with other classification systems.

Moreover, a federal statute in the United States (Public Law 111 -256, Rosa’s Law) replaces the term mental retardation with intellectual disability, and research journals used this term.

Thus, intellectual disability is the term in common use by medical, educational, and other professions and by the lay public and advocacy groups.

Coding note: The ICD-9-CM code for this disability (intellectual developmental disorder) is 319, which is assigned regardless of the severity specifier. The ICD-10-CM code depends on the severity specifier (see below).

So the diagnosis of this disability can be only for those who meet the criteria.

Following are the conditions that can get confused with intellectual disability DSM 5:

Major and mild neurocognitive Disorder-

These disorders are characterized by loss of cognitive functioning whereas this disability is a neurodevelopmental disorder. Though both of them can be co-existing in an individual. For instance, an individual with down syndrome who develops Alzheimer’s disease.

Communication disorder and specific leaning disorder-

These are neurodevelopmental disorders that are specific to the communication and learning domains however they do not show deficits in intellectual and adaptive behavior. Co-existence with this disability can also be present in some cases.

Autism spectrum disorder-

Primarily the autism spectrum disorder is associated with social, communication, and behavior deficits which can interfere with the assessment of the intellectual ability of an individual. Because these individuals may have difficulty in understanding and complying with the test procedures used to asses intellectual abilities. These deficits may result in a misdiagnosis of intellectual disability DSM 5. Also, IQ scores in autism spectrum disorders may be unstable particularly in early childhood,

As we have discussed till now, about intellectual disability DSM 5, its various grades and respective strengths and various other conditions with which it can get confused, it is clear that with early and proper diagnosis, with family support, guidance, assistance and supervision individuals with this disability can lead a better life.

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