Intellectual disability is a permanent condition. There are different definitions of what is considered an intellectual disability. In general, these definitions consider two main factors:
- The affected person has a low score on intelligence tests
- Those affected have problems interacting with others, or with their environment
The cause of such an illness usually lies in childhood, or in genetic disorders. Intellectual disability is different from dementia. In dementia, people forget things, and they lose skills they once had. People with an intellectual disability never learn those skills.
There is currently no cure. Those affected can learn to cope and do many things, if they get enough support and are taught well. There are no specific drugs that can be taken to treat the condition. Many people with an intellectual disability have other health problems, for which they will be given specific drugs. As an example, autisic children with developmental delay may use anti-psychotics or mood stabilizers to help with behavior. Giving drugs to intellectual disability people needs to be monitored; side-effects often occur, and are wrongly diagnosed as problems with behaviour or as psychiatric problems.
The dignity and human rights are protected by the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities as well as other disabilities and equally like other persons without disabilities.