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Intellectual Disability

Early intervention and personalized care can help children with intellectual disabilities reach their fullest potential.

How can I get my child help for intellectual disability?

Talk to your pediatrician if your child has any of these common symptoms of intellectual disability:

  • Developmental delays: Not sitting, walking or talking at the same time as other children their age
  • Learning disabilities: Trouble learning new skills, remembering things and solving problems
  • Social and behavioral challenges: Difficulty understanding rules and recognizing the results of their actions

Having these symptoms does not mean your child has an intellectual disability. Other conditions have similar symptoms. Psychologists at Rush can help evaluate your child for intellectual disabilities and make recommendations for treatments that could help. 

Intellectual disability: what you should know

  • An intellectual disability appears in childhood, before your child is 18 years old.
  • For many children, the cause of their intellectual disability is unknown; however, some of the most common causes of intellectual disability include the following:
  • When intellectual disability occurs later in life, it is typically the result of a health problem, such as a stroke, head injury or infection.
  • Many children with intellectual disabilities also have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

The earlier you address your child’s intellectual disability, the better. Early intervention programs can help children learn skills that help them grow and function in daily life. 

Care for intellectual disability at Rush

Depending on the cause of your child’s intellectual disability, Rush offers the following care:

  • Evaluation: Psychologists at Rush perform psychometric tests that evaluate your child’s personality and aptitude.
  • Expert referral: Your child’s doctor at Rush can refer your child to providers who offer a wide range of services and therapies that can help your child thrive, including behavioral counseling, speech therapy, occupational therapy and physical therapy.
  • Specialized care: Experts at Rush are leaders in treatment and research of the most common causes of intellectual disability, including the following:
    • Fragile X syndrome: The Fragile X Clinic at Rush offers comprehensive care, family counseling and diagnosis of fragile X syndrome.
    • Down syndrome: Physicians from more than 30 specialties at Rush University Children’s Hospital collaborate to provide your child with comprehensive care that addresses the complexities of Down syndrome.
    • Autism: The Autism Resource Center at Rush connects you with the services you need to help improve your child’s development with autism and related disorders, including Rett’s syndrome (a rare type of autism that affects girls and causes intellectual disability). 

Why choose Rush for intellectual disability care

  • Child psychologists at Rush are specially trained in evaluating and caring for children and adolescents with a wide range of developmental conditions, including intellectual disability.
  • A developmental pediatrician at Rush can identify and treat emotional or behavioral conditions that are often associated with intellectual disability.
  • The Section of Genetics at Rush provides genetic counseling, testing and support for families facing intellectual disabilities.
  • Experts at Rush offer personalized care and evaluation of children with fragile X syndrome who have intellectual disabilities. The Fragile X Syndrome Clinic at Rush is the only fragile X clinic in Chicago.

Departments and programs that treat this condition