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How Can I Help Someone With an Intellectual Disability?

Updated: Mar 13

March is Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (IDD) Awareness Month, and annual effort to build awareness, promote inclusion, and celebrate the achievements and contributions of individuals with IDD.

intellectual and developmental disability awareness

An intellectual or developmental disability is a condition characterized by limitations in cognitive functioning and adaptive behavior. These disabilities manifest during the developmental period, typically before the age of 18.


How Do You Help Someone With a Developmental Disability?


Intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) can present challenges across various aspects of an individual's life, impacting areas such as learning, language development, sensory experiences, and behavior. Understanding and addressing these challenges is crucial to providing effective support and enhancing the quality of life for individuals with IDD.


Here are some ways you can help someone with an intellectual disability and contribute to creating a more inclusive and supportive community for everyone:


Get Educated

Knowledge is a powerful tool when it comes to understanding intellectual disabilities. Take some time to learn about the different types of disabilities, their impact on individuals, and the challenges they may face. This can help dispel myths and misconceptions, promoting a more inclusive mindset. Resources from reputable organizations, books, and online courses are great places to start.


The Arc for People With Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities: The Arc is an organization dedicated to advocating for and safeguarding the human rights of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Their mission involves actively supporting the full inclusion and participation of these individuals in the community throughout their lives.


The National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities (NCBDDD), part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides a range of valuable resources to assist people with disabilities and their caretakers. These resources include educational materials on birth defects and developmental disabilities, information on preventive measures and healthy behaviors during pregnancy, and tools for early intervention. The center also disseminates relevant health information to educate caretakers with knowledge and support.


Get Support

As a caregiver or loved one of someone with a disability, support networks are essential. Offer your assistance and be a friendly face. Volunteer at local organizations or events that focus on supporting those with disabilities. By contributing your time and energy, you can make a positive impact on the lives of others while building a more compassionate and connected community.


Enhance Your Communication

Communication is key in any relationship, and it's especially important when interacting with someone with an intellectual disability. Keep these tips in mind:

  • Be patient: Allow individuals time to express themselves.

  • Use clear language: Speak in a straightforward and simple manner.

  • Be a good listener: Pay attention and show genuine interest in what they have to say.

  • Use visual aids: Sometimes, pictures or diagrams can enhance understanding.


Don't Assume

Assumptions can lead to misunderstandings. Instead of making assumptions about someone's abilities or preferences, take the time to ask and listen. Treat each person as an individual with unique strengths, interests, and goals. By avoiding assumptions, you open the door to building authentic connections and friendships.


During Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (IDD) Awareness Month, it's important to remember that building awareness and promoting inclusion is not confined to a single month but is an ongoing commitment. By understanding the challenges associated with intellectual and developmental disabilities and actively supporting individuals with IDD, we contribute to a more inclusive and supportive community.

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