Neurologic Conditions in Individuals with Intellectual Disability

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Individuals with intellectual disabilities (ID) frequently have co-occurring neurologic conditions, which are more likely to be complex in nature when compared to the general population. These individuals are more likely to suffer from conditions such as seizure disorders, attention-deficit/hyperactive disorder, autism spectrum disorder, dementia, delirium, and motor disorders (e.g., tics, antipsychotic-induced). ID is commonly comorbid with other neurodevelopmental disorders, which often present in early developmental years. Sometimes ID is associated with the development of neurocognitive disorders later in life. ID may be associated with a known environmental factor (e.g. prenatal alcohol exposure) or genetic condition that can predispose to other neurologic problems (e.g., Down Syndrome is a risk factor for Alzheimer’s dementia). Neurologic disorders can be difficult to diagnose in those with ID due to barriers in communication and decreased self-report. Because these disorders increase impairment of personal, social, academic or occupational functioning, early identification and intervention can help clinicians improve treatment and outcomes.