Intellectual Disability

Language & Learning Implications

How does ID affect language development?

Individuals with ID have significant deficits in intellectual functioning and adaptive behavior, which causes the child to learn and develop more slowly than a "typical" child (Bilinguistics, 2013).

Key language implications in those with ID

The following is a list of key implications regarding how ID may affect language development, language performance, and classroom performance (Bilinguistics, 2013; Memisevic & Hadzic, 2013; van der Schuit, Segers, van Balkom, & Verhoeven, 2011; Sulkes, 2015):

  • General delay in language development
  • Have difficulty speaking
  • Difficulty with memory
  • Difficulty understanding social cues
  • Problem solving impairments
  • Delayed vocabulary and syntax development
  • Most children do not develop noticeable symptoms until they are in preschool
  • Poor personal care
  • Poor organization (very noticeable in school)
  • Poor competence in reading, writing, and math
  • Impaired social judgement
  • Likely to have behavioral problems

What is Intellectual Disability?


(2013). Intellectual Disability. Bilinguistics. Retrieved from

Memisevic, H. & Hadzic, S. (2013). Speech and language disorders in children with intellectual disorders in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Disability, CBR and Inclusive Development Journal, 24, 92-99.

Sulkes, S.B. (2015) . Intellectual Disability. Merk Manual: Consumer Version. Retrieved from

van der Schuit, M., Segers, E., van Balkom, H., & Verhoeven, L. (2011). How cognitive factors affect language development in children with intellectual disabilities. Research in Developmental Disabilities, 24(5), 1884-1894.