Introduction to Intellectual Disability

Introductionto Intellectual Disability

Introductionto Intellectual Disability

Forthe purpose of this assignment, I created a Special Education (SPED)team. I also interviewed two educators: Mr. Maxwell Luna, a specialeducator and Mr. Eduardo Villalobos, a general educator. Bothteachers are co-workers at Chicago High School. Mr. Maxwell Luna ispursuing his master’s degree in United University and he worked asa paraprofessional for five years before becoming a certifiedteacher. On the other hand, Mr. Eduardo Villalobos is a veteranteacher with ten years of experience in high school and middle schoollevels.

First,I sat down with Mr. Maxwell Luna to discuss on intellectualdisability. Being a special teacher, I was confident that I wouldgain a lot of information from him. Beside, Mr Maxwell is acquittedwith functional living skill, which he teaches in grade nine totwelve in his school. I began to interview him about theterminologies, law, and identification of intellectual disability. Inaddition, I also interviewed him on the issues surrounding thedefinition and classification of students with intellectualdisability, the impact of characteristics of intellectual disabilityon learning, curricular needs, and social attitudes. Previously,mental retardation was accepted term to represent people with mild orsevere intellectual disabilities, and those who lacked adaptivebehaviours. He explained to me why the term is no longeracknowledged. Professionals started regarding the term “mentalretardation” as a taboo and eventually become unacceptable termamong reputable professionals in the related field hence, the originof the intellectual disability. Further, Mr Maxwell elaborated thelaws that protect the students with intellectual disability.According to him, the legislation has been evolving for many yearswith an aim to provide intellectual disability students with afavourable environment. Additionally, the legislation is working hardto see that these students get equal opportunities like those in thegeneral education program. For instance, intellectual disabilitystudents should be allowed to participate in the mainstream classestogether with other student without intellectual disability. Lastly,Mr. Maxwell stressed on the significant of Individual withDisabilities Education Act (IDEA). In summary, he explained thepurpose and the mission of IDEA act, and it benefits to theintellectual disability students. He went further and explained howthe legislation act authorized that all intellectual disabilitystudents should access free public education. In addition, the actrequires all educators to develop special teaching strategies andimplement them while dealing with these special students. Forinstance, Mr. Maxwell says that educators should have appropriatecurricula for ID students in order to maximize their success ineducation. According to Boyleand Scanlon (2010),for an educational system to be effective in any nation, allteachers, educators, and parents must believe that all students canlearn regardless of their economic status, ethnic race, gender,religion, as well as disability.

Next,we discussed the procedures that are used to identify a student withintellectual disability. According to Mr. Maxwell, there are variousfactors to consider before classifying a student as an ID student. Hementioned some of them such as social skills, intellectualfunctioning, conceptual ability, and basic living skills. Besides, hementioned the Intelligent Quotient (IQ) as the major factor todetermine whether a person has an intellectual disability.Nevertheless, Mr. Maxwell insisted that before a student is fullyclassified as ID students other factors such as simple problemsolving difficulties, memory problems, lack of understanding basicsocial rules and consequences of negative behaviours should also beconsidered.

Weconcluded our interview by discussing the impact of intellectualdisability on learning, curricular needs, and social attitudes. Mr.Maxwell urges that formulating an accurate Individualised EducationPlan (IEP) is complicated due to the severity of cognitivedeficiencies for most ID students. Most of these students have verylittle memory therefore, making them forgets previously learntinformation. In addition, ID students have very limited attentionspans hence, it takes a lot of time to deal with language and speechissues. Therefore, their teachers should have appropriate teachingstrategies and be mindful of every student’s strength andweaknesses. Finally, Mr. Maxwell advices special educators that theyshould discover the factors that triggers undesired behaviour thattampers the student learning. Additionally, special teachers shouldalways remember these students need extra care compared with generalstudents (Cohen,Libby, and Spenciner, 2008).

Next,I interviewed Mr. Mr. Eduardo Villalobos, a general educationteacher. I also asked him the same questions as I did to Mr. Maxwell.Similar to Mr. Maxwell, Mr. Eduardo had similar views regardingintellectual disability, their terminologies, law, and the proceduresof identifying an intellectual disability student. Basing his viewson his experience, Mr. Eduardo explained the advantages of includingthe ID students in the general classes. He explained that throughouthis teaching career, the ID students have transited from a more rigidand closed environment to a more open and inclusive environment. Inaddition, they are also given a chance to participate in all schoolactivities. In some questions, Mr. Eduardo opinions differed from theopinions of Mr. Maxwell. For example, Mr. Eduardo felt that theprocedures used to classify a student, as an ID student is so broad.He urged that they focus more on the weakness of the student ratherthan on the strength. As a result, they classify a student as anintellectual disability student whereas the student may have otherunderlying disabilities that contribute to learning difficulties. Tosupport his opinion, he gave an example of one of his student who wasundiagnosed with visual impairment problem as a result, he wasclassified as an ID student. Later, his problem was identified andthe problem was solved. Eventually, the student recovered and therewere no more characteristics of intellectual disability.Dramatically, the student improved in his academic performance andall other co-curriculum activities.

Afterinterviewing the two educators, I had a good opportunity to learnmore on the intellectual disability. In addition, I learnt about thederivation of the term “intellectual disability” and the reasonwhy it changed from the term “mental retardation.” Indeed, theinterviews provided valuable knowledge especially on the social,educational, and legal issues that surrounds student withintellectual disability. According to both Mr. Maxwell and Mr.Eduardo, special teachers should consider these aspects in order toprovide supportive, effective, and safe learning environment for IDstudents. Besides, all teachers whether special or general, shouldhave the basic knowledge of special education laws and theirterminologies. They should also collaborate to ensure they make apositive impact on all students. Teachers should always remember theemotional and social being of a child is directly related to his orher academic success in regardless of their educational environment.According to Foreman(2009), educators should also have effective instructional strategiesand substantial to deliver so that these students can increase theirattention span and memory.


Boyle,J. R., &amp Scanlon, D. (2010).&nbspMethodsand strategies for teaching students with mild disabilities: Acase-based approach.Belmont, Calif: Wadsworth.

Cohen,Libby G., &amp Spenciner, Loraine J. (2008).&nbspTeachingStudents with Mild and Moderate Disabilities: Research-BasedPractices + MyEducationLab.Prentice Hall.

Foreman,P. (2009).&nbspEducationof students with an intellectual disability: Research and practice.Charlotte, NC: Information Age Pub.