What Is The Mental Age Of A Person With Intellectual Disability?

11 Jan 2022
Unearth what is the mental age of a person with intellectual disability, exploring causes, implications, and daily life impacts.

Understanding Intellectual Disability

When discussing the mental age of a person with an intellectual disability, it's crucial to first understand what intellectual disability entails.

Definition and Criteria

Intellectual disability, often abbreviated as ID, is a term used to describe a variety of conditions characterized by significant limitations in both intellectual functioning and adaptive behavior. This disability originates before the age of 18 and affects multiple areas of life, including conceptual, social, and practical skills.

According to the American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (AAIDD), an IQ test score of around 70 or as high as 75 indicates a significant limitation in intellectual functioning, which is a defining criterion for intellectual disability. However, a diagnosis of intellectual disability is not solely based on IQ scores. It also takes into account the individual's level of adaptive function, which is measured using individually administered standardized tests.

Prevalence and Causes

Intellectual disability is a global concern, with an estimated 2.5% of the global population having low levels of intellectual functioning commensurate with ID [2]. The reported prevalence globally is around 1%, varying from 1% to 3% by country, with a male to female ratio of 2:1 [1].

The causes of intellectual disability are diverse. Genetic abnormalities, inborn errors of metabolism, and brain malformations are major categories of causes identified in severe to profound intellectual disability. However, the etiology, severity, cognitive abilities, and adaptive function vary among individuals with intellectual disability, necessitating consideration in the development of a treatment plan [1].

Understanding intellectual disability is the first step to answering the question, "What is the mental age of a person with intellectual disability?". As we delve deeper into this topic, we shall explore the concepts of mental age and intellectual functioning, the different testing methods, and the daily life implications of living with an intellectual disability.

Measuring Intellectual Functioning

In order to determine the mental age of a person with an intellectual disability, professionals often turn to a variety of tests that measure intellectual functioning. These tests are used to evaluate an individual's cognitive abilities, including their reasoning, problem-solving, memory, and attention skills.

IQ Testing

IQ, short for Intelligence Quotient, is a standardized measure used to assess a person's general cognitive abilities. An IQ test score of around 70 or as high as 75 is generally considered indicative of a significant limitation in intellectual functioning, a defining criterion for intellectual disability according to the AAIDD.

IQ tests often include various subtests that assess different aspects of cognitive functioning, offering a comprehensive picture of an individual's intellectual capabilities. However, it's important to note that these tests are not the sole determinants of a person's abilities and should be used in conjunction with other forms of assessment.

Age-Specific Tests

Different IQ tests are tailored for different age groups. They all measure similar cognitive abilities, but the questions and tasks are age-appropriate.

  1. The Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children (WISC) is administered to children ages 6 to 16, assessing verbal skills and spatial (performance) skills MentalHelp.net.
  2. The Wechsler Preschool and Primary Scale of Intelligence is for children aged 3 to 7 years. It's not suitable for individuals with severe intellectual disabilities MentalHelp.net.
  3. The Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale (WAIS) is designed for individuals over sixteen years of age, with more challenging questions compared to the WISC MentalHelp.net.

These age-specific tests are used to determine a person's mental age, a concept that was first introduced by Alfred Binet, the co-creator of the first IQ tests in the early twentieth century. The mental age is compared with the average performance of their same-age peers or by comparing their demonstrated physical, speech, adaptive, or cognitive skills against the average of various age groups Disability Wisdom.

However, it's important to remember that the concept of mental age has its limitations and criticisms. It oversimplifies a person's intellectual functioning by reducing it to a single number and fails to acknowledge the complexity of the individual. It also doesn't account for the varying skills and knowledge across different areas of a person's life, or the possibility for growth and development that may exceed perceived mental age limitations Disability Wisdom.

The Concept of Mental Age

The concept of mental age is often invoked when discussing intellectual disabilities. However, it's crucial to understand its history, criticisms, limitations, and misconceptions to provide a nuanced perspective on intellectual disability.

History and Criticism

The theory of "mental age" was first introduced by Alfred Binet, co-creator of the first IQ tests, in the early twentieth century. It was used to measure an individual's intellectual and developmental functioning by comparing their score on a standardized IQ test with the average performance of their same-age peers, or by comparing their demonstrated physical, speech, adaptive, or cognitive skills against the average of various age groups [3].

This theory has a disturbing history as it led to the categorization and labeling of individuals with intellectual disabilities based on their mental age. Labels such as "morons" for those with a mental age of 9-12 years, "imbeciles" for those with a mental age of 6-8 years, and "idiots" for those with a mental age of 2-5 years were used. This led to the belief that they were unfit to reproduce.

Limitations and Misconceptions

The concept of mental age oversimplifies an individual's intellectual, developmental, and adaptive functioning by reducing it to a single number. This obscures the complexity of the person and fails to account for variations in skills and knowledge across different areas of a person's life, as well as the potential for compensatory skills and different types of intelligence that may not be captured by standardized tests.

A common misconception is that the mental age of a person with intellectual disabilities is a static ceiling that they cannot exceed, unlike chronological age, which allows for growth and development. In reality, there are cases where individuals with severe communication impairments made significant progress in communication skills when provided with appropriate support and technology, indicating the potential for growth regardless of perceived mental age limitations.

Mental age labels are often used to control freedoms and support services for individuals with intellectual disabilities, leading to the denial of certain freedoms based on presumed mental age. This can result in infantilization, undermining autonomy, and exposing individuals to exploitation or abuse due to a lack of education on age-appropriate topics [3].

Understanding these limitations and misconceptions is critical when discussing the mental age of a person with intellectual disability. It's essential to recognize that these individuals have the capacity for growth and development, and deserve the same rights and opportunities as everyone else.

Intellectual Disabilities and Comorbidities

People living with intellectual disabilities often experience additional health challenges, referred to as comorbidities. These conditions can include psychiatric disorders and various medical conditions.

Psychiatric Disorders

Psychiatric disorders are notably prevalent among individuals with intellectual disabilities. According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, people with intellectual disabilities are 3-5 times more likely to have a psychiatric disorder compared to the general population, regardless of age. The cumulative prevalence of psychiatric disorders within this group is around 40%.

These psychiatric manifestations often start subtly and are presented in atypical ways. As a result, they are commonly misunderstood as merely being a part of the spectrum of intellectual disability symptoms. It's therefore crucial for caregivers and healthcare providers to be aware of these possible comorbidities to ensure individuals with intellectual disabilities receive the appropriate treatment and support they need.

Medical Conditions

In addition to psychiatric disorders, individuals with intellectual disabilities frequently have associated medical comorbidities. According to National Center for Biotechnology Information, these can include:

These medical conditions often require additional healthcare support and can significantly impact an individual's quality of life and daily functioning. It's important that healthcare providers, caregivers, and those with intellectual disabilities themselves are aware of these potential health complications. This knowledge can help ensure that individuals receive timely and appropriate healthcare interventions, which can greatly improve their overall wellbeing and quality of life.

Intellectual Disability and Daily Life

The daily life of a person with intellectual disability (ID) can be influenced by various factors, including their functional skills and the support and accommodation they receive.

Functional Skills

Functional skills are abilities necessary for independent living, such as communication, self-care, socialization, and other aspects of daily life. For individuals with intellectual disability, these skills, also referred to as adaptive function, are particularly important.

People with ID may face challenges in developing these functional skills without support. However, with appropriate assistance, they can learn and improve these abilities, enhancing their independence and quality of life.

Support services, such as speech therapy, occupational therapy, and behavioral interventions, can play a crucial role in helping individuals with intellectual disability develop and improve their functional skills [1].

Support and Accommodation

Support and accommodation are essential for people with intellectual disability to participate fully in daily life. This can encompass various aspects, including education, employment, and community engagement.

Appropriate support can range from individualized learning plans in an educational setting to job coaching in the workplace. Accommodations may include modifications to the environment or tasks to enable individuals with ID to participate more effectively.

The provision of these support and accommodation measures can enable individuals with intellectual disability to lead fulfilling lives, participate in their communities, and reach their potential. It's important to recognize and respect the individual strengths and abilities of people with intellectual disability, and provide them with opportunities for growth and development in areas that are meaningful to them [1].

In conclusion, the functional skills of a person with intellectual disability and the support they receive can significantly influence their daily life and overall well-being. As such, efforts should be made to provide appropriate support and accommodation to individuals with ID, enabling them to lead fulfilling lives and participate meaningfully in their communities.


[1]: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7082244/

[2]: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6345136/

[3]: https://www.disabilitywisdom.com/2018/12/21/whats-my-age-again-why-mental-age-theory-hurts-people-with-intellectual-and-developmental-disabilities/

Recent Articles

Effective Strategies for Boosting Children's Social Confidence

July 19, 2024

Boost your child's social confidence with effective strategies! Nurture their self-esteem, encourage decision-making, and more.

Home-Based Therapy for Social Confidence in Kids

July 19, 2024

Empower your little superstars with home-based therapy! Boost social confidence in kids through engaging activities and collaborative approaches.

Community Support for Children with Social Confidence Challenges

July 19, 2024

Discover empowering community support for children with social confidence challenges. Unleash their potential and nurture their self-esteem.

Building Social Confidence in Kids with Home Care

July 19, 2024

Empower your kids with social confidence through home care. Build bridges to confidence and watch them soar!

Boosting Social Skills in Children at Home

July 19, 2024

Boost social confidence in children at home! Discover strategies, activities, and parental tips for nurturing self-esteem and social skills.

Enhancing Social Skills in Children

July 19, 2024

Unlock your child's social potential! Discover effective strategies and training to improve social skills in kids.

Fostering Childrens Social Skills at Home

July 19, 2024

Unlock the key to success: nurturing children's social skills at home. Discover the power of family influence and effective parenting styles.

Home-Based Social Skills Training for Kids

July 19, 2024

Unlock social skills for kids at home! Discover effective strategies and activities for home-based social skills training.

Community Programs for Enhancing Childrens Social Skills

July 19, 2024

Unlock brighter futures for children with community programs that enhance social skills. Discover the power of belonging and self-esteem today!

Social Interaction Skills Therapy for Children

July 19, 2024

Unlock the power of social interaction skills therapy for children. Discover effective strategies and therapies for building connections.

Does Health Plus Cover Home Health Care?

July 18, 2024

Health Plus insurance covers home health care services, but eligibility criteria and coverage may vary depending on your specific plan.

How Do You Deal With Intellectual Disability? The Power of Advocacy

July 18, 2024

Discover the power of advocacy for intellectual disability and how it creates opportunities and promotes equality.

Child Neglect Prevention Programs: Unleashing the Impact

July 18, 2024

Discover the power of child neglect prevention programs in safeguarding innocence. Learn how these initiatives combat neglect and support fa

Infant Chronic Lung Disease: Breaking Down the Risks

July 18, 2024

Discover the complications of infant chronic lung disease, its risk factors, and strategies for management.

NYS Childrens HCBS Services

July 18, 2024

Explore NYS children's HCBS services, offering vital support to young minds and their families for comprehensive care.

Causes of Cerebrovascular Disease in Children

July 18, 2024

Discover the causes of cerebrovascular disease in children, recognize symptoms, and explore treatments.

Asthma Symptoms in Children

July 18, 2024

Learn to identify and manage asthma symptoms in children, empowering you to ensure their health and well-being confidently.

Navigating Pediatric Cardiac Care at Home

July 18, 2024

Empower your pediatric cardiac care at home with our guide. Navigate emergencies and equipment with ease.

Top Pediatric Diabetes Management Programs

July 18, 2024

Discover top pediatric diabetes management programs for comprehensive child care and smoother transitions to adulthood.

Cardiovascular Emergencies in Pediatric Patients

July 18, 2024

Master managing cardiovascular emergencies in pediatric patients with expert home cardiac care tips.

Home-Based Heart Health Programs for Children

July 18, 2024

Discover the transformative power of home-based heart health programs for children. Better care at home!

Essential Home Care for Children with Diabetes

July 18, 2024

Gain confidence in home care for children with diabetes with our empowering guide for parents.

Effective Techniques for Managing Diabetes in Children

July 18, 2024

Empower your child's future with effective techniques for managing diabetes in children.

Community Support for Children with Diabetes

July 18, 2024

Explore community support for diabetic children, the role of health clubs, and access to care essentials.

Effective Home Treatments for Childhood Diabetes

July 18, 2024

Discover effective home treatments for childhood diabetes, from nutritional support to emotional care.

The Pediatric Out-of-Hospital Chain of Survival Steps

July 18, 2024

Master pediatric out-of-hospital chain of survival steps and empower your child's cardiac care at home.

Pediatric Asthma Care Programs That Make a Difference

July 18, 2024

Discover effective pediatric asthma care programs, from diagnosis to treatment, for your child's success.

Community Support for Kids Battling Asthma

July 18, 2024

Discover community support for kids with asthma in NY—enhancing care, school programs, and resources.

Best Practices for Children's Asthma Management at Home

July 18, 2024

Master children's asthma management at home with strategies on triggers, school challenges, and emergencies.

Effective Home Treatments for Childhood Asthma

July 18, 2024

Explore effective home treatments for childhood asthma, from natural therapies to allergy control.

Expert Advice for Managing Children's Asthma With Home Care

July 18, 2024

Gain expert insights on managing asthma in children with home care. Empower your family today!

Essential Steps in Heart Condition Rehabilitation for Kids

July 18, 2024

Empower your child's heart health journey with our guide on heart condition rehabilitation for kids.

Finding Autism and Mental Health Support for Kids in New York

July 18, 2024

Empower your parenting with our guide on autism and mental health support for kids in New York.

Specialized Therapy for Autism with Health Conditions

July 18, 2024

Discover specialized therapy for autism with health conditions, transforming lives for New York families.

Home-Based Support for Fragile Children with Autism

July 18, 2024

Exploring home-based support for fragile children with autism. Empower your child's journey with tailored guidance.

Integrated Autism and Mental Health Services

July 18, 2024

Explore integrated autism and mental health services, breaking barriers for quality care access.

Comprehensive Care for Medically Fragile Children with Autism

July 18, 2024

Explore comprehensive care for medically fragile children with autism and learn to support their unique needs.

Empowering Kids with Bullying Support

July 18, 2024

Empower your kids with bullying support strategies, understand the signs, and prevent long-term effects.

Community Prevention Programs Against Bullying:

July 18, 2024

Explore effective community bullying prevention programs, their strategies, and success in combating bullying.

Supporting Recovery from Bullying at Home

July 18, 2024

Discover strategies for recovering from bullying at home, empowering victims, and creating a safe haven.

Bullying Victims At-Home Therapy Strategies

July 18, 2024

Empower bullying victims with at-home therapy strategies. Transform trauma into strength and resilience.

Managing Bullying Effects at Home

July 18, 2024

Explore strategies for managing bullying effects at home and resources for creating a safe haven.

Overcoming School Refusal in Children at Home

July 18, 2024

Explore strategies for overcoming school refusal in children at home, from therapy to morning routines.

School RefusalCommunity Resources for Support

July 18, 2024

Explore community school refusal support programs and effective strategies to help your child thrive.

How to Help a Child Overcome School Refusal

July 18, 2024

Discover how to help a child overcome school refusal with effective treatments and supportive strategies.

Overcoming School Refusal with Effective Management

July 18, 2024

Unlock strategies for managing school refusal - from home interventions to anxiety relief techniques.

School Anxiety and Refusal: Symptoms & Interventions

July 18, 2024

Discover insights on school anxiety and refusal, learn to recognize symptoms, and explore effective interventions.

Pediatric Cardiology Resources For Families in New York

July 15, 2024

Discover pediatric cardiology resources for families in New York, empowering you with knowledge and support.

How to Support Children with Heart Conditions

July 15, 2024

Navigate strategies for supporting children with heart conditions, from diagnosis to lifelong care.

Community Cardiology Services for Kids in New York

July 15, 2024

Explore community cardiology services for kids in NY, helping build strong hearts with early detection and care.

What is a Pediatric Cardiology?

July 15, 2024

Uncover what is a pediatric cardiology? Learn about child heart conditions and expert care in New York.

Insights into Pediatric Heart Conditions

July 15, 2024

Navigate through pediatric heart conditions with expert insights - from diagnosis to long-term care.

Respite Care for Children with Special Needs

July 8, 2024

Explore respite care for children with special needs, from access to benefits, offering a lifeline for caregivers.

Is There a Cure for Sickle Cell Anemia?

July 8, 2024

Explore advancements towards curing sickle cell anemia, from gene therapy to FDA-approved treatments.

Impulse Control Disorders in Children

July 8, 2024

Conquer impulse control disorders in children with effective strategies and professional help. Get the support your child needs now!

Impulse Control Disorders and Substance Abuse: Exploring the Relationship

July 8, 2024

Unveiling the link between impulse control disorders and substance abuse. Discover the hidden dangers and find support for parents.

How to Treat High Blood Pressure in Teenager

July 8, 2024

Learn effective strategies to manage high blood pressure in teenagers, promoting healthier lifestyles and better long-term health.

How to Treat High Blood Pressure in Children?

July 8, 2024

Master strategies to treat high blood pressure in children through balanced diet, regular exercise, and medical interventions.

How to Teach a Child with Intellectual Disability to Read

July 8, 2024

Explore strategies on how to teach a child with intellectual disability to read. Empower minds today!

How To Support Teens During Major Life Transitions

July 8, 2024

Learn how to support teens during major life transitions with effective tools and strategies, promoting resilience and positive growth.

How To Support A Teen With Social Anxiety

July 8, 2024

Learn how to support a teen with social anxiety, from treatment options to creating supportive environments.

How To Support A Teen With Learning Disabilities

July 8, 2024

Discover how to support a teen with learning disabilities: from early intervention to empowering tools.

How to Support a Teen with ADHD: A Guide

July 8, 2024

Learn how to support a teen with ADHD through academic strategies, fostering independence, and promoting a healthy lifestyle.

How to Obtain Respite Care For Your Child's Wellbeing

July 8, 2024

Learn how to get respite care for your child, ensuring their wellbeing and giving you peace of mind through reliable care services.

How To Help Teens Manage Academic Pressure

July 8, 2024

Empower teens to manage academic pressure with effective strategies for stress reduction and self-care.

How To Help Teens Develop Healthy Relationships

July 8, 2024

Learn how to help teens develop healthy relationships, from nurturing friendships to handling digital influences.

How To Help Teens Develop Healthy Coping Mechanisms

July 8, 2024

Empower teens with healthy coping mechanisms. Harness their inner strength and conquer stress wisely with effective strategies and support.

How To Help Teens Develop A Healthy Self-esteem

July 8, 2024

Learn how to help teens build a healthy self-esteem. Nurture strength and resilience for lifelong confidence.

How To Handle Substance Abuse In Teens

July 8, 2024

Learn how to handle substance abuse in teens: from recognizing signs to exploring effective interventions.

How to Get Respite Care for My Child?

July 8, 2024

Learn how to get respite care for your child, explore financial aid options, and locate trusted services to support your family.

How to Get Health Insurance for Your Child with Autism?

July 8, 2024

Navigate steps to secure health insurance for your child with autism, ensuring comprehensive coverage and effective care plans.

How To Foster Positive Body Image In Adolescents

July 8, 2024

Explore how to foster positive body image in adolescents, from mental well-being to social influences.

How to Create a Safe Space for Teens to Express Their Emotions

July 8, 2024

Learn how to create a safe space for teens to express emotions, using trust, dialogue, and technology.

How to Become a Respite Caregiver for ASD

July 8, 2024

Discover how to become a respite caregiver for ASD, join a rewarding field and make a real difference.

How to Become a HCBS Provider in NY

July 8, 2024

Learn how to become an HCBS provider in NY, from Medicaid enrollment to maintaining compliance and providing high-quality care.

How to Apply for Child Care in the United States

July 8, 2024

Navigate how to apply for child care in the US, from financial aid to state programs, with our guide.

How To Address Self-harm Behaviors In Teens

July 8, 2024

Learn how to address self-harm behaviors in teens - from recognizing signs to effective intervention strategies.

How To Address Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) In Teens?

July 8, 2024

Navigate 'how to address OCD in teens' - understanding symptoms, treatments, and the power of empathy.

How To Address Anger Issues In Adolescents

July 8, 2024

Learn how to address anger issues in adolescents with effective techniques and professional interventions.

How Sickle Cell Anemia is Inherited in Families?

July 8, 2024

Decode how sickle cell anemia is inherited and learn about risk assessment, testing, and counseling.

How Respite Can Help You and Your Child: Your Lifeline in Parenting

July 8, 2024

Discover how respite can help you and your child with disabilities – a lifeline for parents in New York.

How Rare is Childhood Dementia?

July 8, 2024

Unveiling the truth: Is childhood dementia rare? Explore the prevalence, impact, & advances in research for families facing this challenge.

How Much Time Should Parents Spend with Their Child?

July 8, 2024

Navigate the question of how much time parents should spend with their child, with a focus on autism.

How Much Is Child Support In NYC?

July 8, 2024

Get insights on 'how much is child support in NYC?' Explore factors, additional costs, and legal repercussions.

How Much Is Child Support For Two Kids In NY?

July 8, 2024

Discover how much is child support for 2 kids in NY? Unravel the factors, court's role, and services.

How Much Is Child Support For Four Kids In NYS?

July 8, 2024

Unveil the truth about how much child support is required for four kids in NYS. Explore the factors, laws, and guidelines involved.

How Much Does Health Insurance for a Child with Autism Cost?

July 8, 2024

Navigate 'how much is health insurance for a child' with autism. Uncover costs, subsidies, and more.

How Much Do Physical Therapists Actually Make?

July 8, 2024

Unravel "how much do physical therapists make" with our comprehensive guide on salaries and factors.

How Much Do Daycare Workers Get Paid in New York?

July 8, 2024

Discover how much daycare workers get paid in New York, and uncover the factors influencing their wages and overall compensation.

How Much Child Support Do I Need For One Child In NY?

July 8, 2024

Demystify how much child support is needed for one child in NY with our comprehensive guide, providing clarity and essential information.

How Many Weeks of Free Respite Care Are You Allowed?

July 8, 2024

Unravel how many weeks of free respite care are you allowed. Learn about options, costs, and coverage.

How Many Long Term Care Facilities are in the US?

July 8, 2024

Get the lowdown on how many long-term care facilities in the US, their impact, and trends shaping them.

How Many Home Health Aides Are There in New York - A Closer Look

July 8, 2024

Discover the number of home health aides in New York and how they support families with disabled children.

How Many Home Care Agencies Operate in New York State?

July 8, 2024

Discover how many home care agencies operate in New York State. Find the support your autistic child deserves.

How Long Does Group Therapy Last

July 8, 2024

Dive into the ins and outs of group therapy and discover how long group therapy typically lasts, ensuring informed participation.

How Long Can A Child Have Diabetes Without Knowing

July 8, 2024

Unmask the silent threat by learning about diagnosing diabetes in children, understanding symptoms, and effective management strategies.

How Home and Community Based Services Enhance Lives

July 8, 2024

Explore how home and community based services are transforming care, enhancing quality of life, and shaping the future.

How DSS in NYS Supports Children with Disabilities

July 8, 2024

Explore 'what is DSS in NYS?' and how it supports children with disabilities through transformative services.

How Does Cardiovascular Disease Affects Childhood?

July 8, 2024

Discover how cardiovascular disease impacts childhood, affecting physical health, emotional wellbeing, and social interactions.

How Do You Deal With a Mentally Unstable Child

July 8, 2024

Gain insights on dealing with a mentally unstable child, from recognizing signs to seeking professional help and effective support strategies.