Support for families with a child with an intellectual or developmental disability

Intellectual or developmental disability

Approximately 2-3% of children have an intellectual disability. This is a neurodevelopmental condition, so children are born with it. Children with an intellectual disability experience difficulties with learning new information and may struggle with skills needed to live independently day to day. When children are young, intellectual disability (learning disability in the UK) may be called global developmental delay. Many children will also have additional developmental conditions such as autism or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).

Raising a child with an intellectual or developmental disability is a very positive and rewarding experience. Most families will need some support as their children grow up. Behaviours that challenge in children with an intellectual disability and mental health problems are frequent in intellectual disability. The reasons for this are varied and are not always related to having an intellectual disability.

Families need support to cope successfully and to help their children. Support should be available at many stages: when children are young or before difficulties become very pronounced (called early intervention) and when families access specialist services after difficulties have emerged (called specialist support or specialist intervention).

Our research is looking into different types of supports and interventions in an effort to increase the range of supports we know work well for families. Please take a look at our next pages where we describe our current research on: