intellectual disability


Definition of intellectual disability 

: significant impairment in intellectual ability accompanied by deficits in skills necessary for independent daily functioning : mental retardation … Rosa's Law, which changed references in federal law from "mental retardation" to "intellectual disability" and references to a mentally retarded individual to an individual with an intellectual disability.— Victor R. Martinez

Examples of intellectual disability in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

Her 9-month-old, Darby, was born with Trisomy 13, a rare chromosomal disorder, which causes severe intellectual disability and life-threatening medical problems. Jocelyn Wiener, sacbee, "That early help you need for your child doesn't come soon enough," 29 May 2018 Substance abuse services are competing for money with group homes for people with intellectual disabilities and hospitals that train medical students. Julia O'donoghue,, "Despite opioid crisis, Louisiana may cut drug treatment options," 8 May 2018 Rodriguez has autism spectrum disorder and participates in the Indianapolis Public Schools Life Skills program, which primarily serves students with intellectual disabilities and autism. Arika Herron, Indianapolis Star, "Teen with autism gains life skills, independence through work program," 30 Apr. 2018 Special Olympics is the largest sports organization in the world for people with intellectual disabilities, boasting 5 million athletes in 172 countries. Stephen Hudak,, "Orlando chosen to host Special Olympic USA Summer Games in 2022, brings $61 million impact," 17 May 2018 The addition of Legacy would substantially increase the annual revenue of Woods, which provides service for children and adults with developmental and intellectual disabilities. Harold Brubaker,, "Legacy Treatment joining Woods Services in nonprofit merger," 3 July 2018 Guardianship is often associated with people who develop or are born with intellectual disabilities. Theresa Vargas, Washington Post, "This 87-year-old D.C. woman just made it easier for you to keep your independence," 27 June 2018 Others were suspected of having intellectual disabilities after seizures or other illnesses. Kate Tuttle,, "Hans Asperger's complex Nazi history," 15 June 2018 At the time of his death, Tirado’s 17-year-old son Matthew, who according to the Courant had severe intellectual disabilities, weighed just 84 lbs. Greg Hanlon,, "17-Year-Old with Autism Starved to Death by His Mom Weighed Just 84 Lbs.: She 'Showed Real Hate'," 6 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'intellectual disability.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of intellectual disability

1809, in the meaning defined above

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Last Updated

7 Oct 2018

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The first known use of intellectual disability was in 1809

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intellectual disability


Medical Definition of intellectual disability 

: significant impairment in cognitive functioning (as in learning, reasoning, or problem solving) accompanied by deficits in skills (such as communication and self-care) necessary for independent daily functioning : mental retardation … Rosa's Law, which changed references in federal law from “mental retardation” to “intellectual disability” and references to a mentally retarded individual to an individual with an intellectual disability.— Victor R. Martinez, The El Paso (Texas) Times, 23 Jan. 2012 With Medicaid waivers, some adults with retardation or, if you prefer, intellectual disabilities, can do what adults do, move out of their parents' homes—and into group homes.The Daily Press (Newport News, Virginia), 27 Jan. 2008

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