Intelligence is spread unequally among us. Some people whose intellectual fall below average is said to suffer from a general Learning disability. The World Health Organization has set criteria for a diagnosis of general learning disability, In order to be identified, an individual must have determined scores on an IQ test, and show significant problems performing the tasks of daily life.
Their score on IQ tests tend to be between 10 and 69, and individuals must show significant delays in an inability to care for themselves, significant deficits in social or interpersonal skills, inability to use community resources, inability to be self-directed, very low academic or work skills, no leisure activities, or inability to care for their health or personal safety.
The severity of Learning Disorder
Individuals with a mild learning disability can feed and dress with minimal help may have average motor skills, and can learn to talk and write in simple terms. They can get around their own neighborhoods well, although they may not be able to go beyond their neighborhoods without help.
With proper training, they can learn good education and become self-reliant. They can cook simple food and do shop only for specific items. They may be employed in unskilled or semiskilled jobs. Their scores on IQ tests tend to be between about 50 and 69.
Individuals with moderate general learning disability typically have significant delays in language development, such as using only four to ten words by the age of three. They may be physically clumsy and, thus, have some trouble dressing and feeding themselves.
They typically do not achieve more than rudimentary academic skills but, with special education, can learn simple vocational skills. A moderate-level person can not travel alone and does not able to cook. Their scores on IQ tests tend to be between about 35 and 49.
Individuals with a severe learning disability have very limited vocabularies and speak in two- or three-word sentences. They may have significant deficits in motor development and as children may play with toys inappropriately (e.g., banging two dolls together, rather than having them interact symbolically).
As adults, they can feed themselves with spoons and dress if the clothing is not complicated with many buttons or zippers. They cannot travel alone for any distance and cannot shop or cook for themselves. They may be able to learn some unskilled manual labor, but many do not.
Children and adults with profound learning disabilities are severely impaired and require full-time custodial care. They cannot dress completely. They may be able to use spoons, but not knives and forks. They tend not to interact with others socially, although they may respond to simple commands.
They may achieve a vocabulary of 400 words as adults. Many persons with profound general are learning disabilities suffer from frequent illnesses, and their life expectancy is shorter than normal. Their IQ scores tend to be under 20.
Causes of general learning disability
A large number of biological factors can cause general learning disability, including chromosomal and gestational disorders, exposure to toxins prenatally and in early childhood, infections, physical trauma, metabolism and nutrition problems, and gross brain disease. In addition, socio-cultural factors can influence general learning disability.
Intellectual skills are at least partially inherited. The families of individuals with a general learning disability tend to have high rates of intellectual problems, including the different levels of general learning disability and autism spectrum disorder.
Several types of chromosomal disorders can lead to a general learning disability. One of the best-known causes of general learning disability is Down syndrome, which is caused when chromosome 21 is present in triplicate rather than in duplicate. Down syndrome occurs in about 1 in every 800 children.
From childhood, almost all people with Down syndrome have a general learning disability, although the level of their disability varies from mild to profound. People with Down syndrome have abnormalities in the neurons in their brains.
Fragile X syndrome, which is the second most common cause of general learning disability in males after Down syndrome is caused when a tip of the X chromosome breaks off. This syndrome is characterized by severe to profound general learning disability, speech defects, and severe deficits in interpersonal interaction.
The quality of the prenatal environment for a fetus can profoundly affect intellectual development. When a pregnant woman contracts the rubella virus there is a risk of physical damage to the fetus that can cause a general learning disability.
Chronic maternal disorders, such as high blood pressure and diabetes can interfere with fetus nutrition and brain development and, therefore, can affect the intellectual capacities of the fetus. The drugs a woman takes while pregnant can pass through the placenta, affecting the development of the fetus.
Children with general learning disabilities are more likely to come from low socioeconomic groups, this may be because their parents also have a general learning disability and have not been able to acquire jobs.
The social disadvantages of being poor may also contribute to lower than average intellectual development. Poor mothers are less likely to receive good prenatal care, increasing the risk of damage to the fetus and of their children being born prematurely.
Children living in poverty are at increased risk for exposure to lead because many old, run-down buildings have lead paint, which chips off and is ingested by the children. Ingestion of lead can cause brain damage and impede intellectual development.
Poor children are concentrated in the inner city is poorly funded. Thus, they do not receive the kind of education that could improve their intelligence. Poor children are less likely to have parents who read to them, who encourage academic success, and who are involved in their schooling. These factors may directly affect a child’s intellectual development and may exacerbate the biological conditions that interfere with a child’s cognitive development.
Treatments for general learning disability
Ideally, children at risk of general learning disability receive comprehensive interventions from the first days of life. Intensive individualized interventions can enhance individuals’ development of basic skills. Drug therapies reduce aggressive and self-destructive behaviors and social programs ensure that the environment is optimal for the child’s development.
Behavioral interventions can help children and adults learn new skills, from identifying colors correctly to using vocational skills. Other adults may model the desired behavior, starting with the simplest steps, then rewarding the child or adult as he or she comes closer and closer to mastering the skill. Behavioral strategies can also help to reduce self-injurious and other maladaptive behaviors, such as headbanging.
Medications are used to reduce seizures, and can also reduce aggressive, self-destructive, and antisocial behavior. Antidepressant medications can reduce depressive symptoms, improve sleep patterns, and help control self-injurious behavior in mentally impaired individuals.
A social program like home counseling, parents teaching can show benefits in cognitive development. Comprehensive interventions for children at risk of general learning disability combine all these strategies and more into one package.