Intellectual disabilities in Children: Tips and Foods that help

Does your child seem to be struggling a bit reaching developmental milestones like sitting up, rolling over, or walking? Is your child facing difficulties in remembering a tiny bit of information? Did your child find it difficult to communicate with others? Is your kid always adamant and throws tantrums? If true, then it might indicate that a child has intellectual difficulties. Children with intellectual disabilities are capable of learning new skills, but they do it more slowly. Let’s understand more about signs, causes, tips and foods to manage intellectual disabilities in children.

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What are Intellectual disabilities (ID)?

Intellectual disabilities are neurodevelopmental disorders. It can be described by a lack of skills which are needed for daily independent activities as well as below-average IQ or cognitive abilities. It can range from mild to severe. Children with intellectual disabilities are limited in two areas,

1.Intellectual functioning or Intelligence quotient (IQ)

It refers to a person’s capacity for understanding, thinking, logical reasoning, decision-making, and problem-solving. An IQ test is used to determine the intelligence quotient. The vast majority of people have an IQ between 85 and 115. If a person’s IQ is between 70 and 75, they are declared to have intellectual disabilities. 

2.Adaptive behaviours

These include abilities to effectively communicate, connect with people, and take care of oneself. These abilities are required for day-to-day life. The ability of the child to eat or groom themselves, their ability to speak with and understand people, and their interactions with family, friends, and kids their own age are all things that can be noticed.

Around 1-3% of the population in the world have intellectual disabilities and 85% are mild. This indicates that they pick up new skills or abilities slightly more slowly. So, with proper assistance, the majority of the people can live independently.

Also check, Dyspraxia in Kids

Signs of intellectual disabilities in children

Children with intellectual disabilities often exhibit a wide variety of symptoms. A child may show signs as early as infancy or they may not become apparent until they are of school age. Here are some common signs of intellectual disabilities in children:

  • Delay in developmental milestones like rolling over, sitting, crawling and walking
  • Having trouble reading or speaking
  • They find it difficult to understand or follow rules
  • Difficulty making or adhering to plans or timetables
  • Behavioural issues like meltdowns or tantrums and aggressiveness
  • Having trouble remembering things and communicating their requirements to others
  • Employing nonverbal cues like emotions and gestures to communicate

The signs appear at early childhood or adolescence. By the age of 2, the issue in linguistic and motor skills will appear. On the other hand, children with minor intellectual disabilities might not exhibit any observable symptoms until they start to struggle academically.

Also check, Early signs of Autism

Causes of intellectual disabilities in children

Intellectual disability can happen whenever something inhibits the brain from developing normally. Here are some of the common causes of intellectual disabilities in children:

  • Genetic conditions: Down’s syndrome, fragile X syndrome
  • Fetal alcohol syndrome: Alcohol or drug use during pregnancy can interfere with brain development.
  • Premature birth
  • Malnutrition
  • Lack of oxygen during delivery
  • Severe injury in head
  • Birth defects and brain abnormalities
  • Autism
  • Certain infections like meningitis, measles etc

Also check, Developmental delay in children

How can intellectual disabilities in children be prevented?

Some of the causes can prevent intellectual disabilities in children. Fetal alcohol syndrome is one of them. A pregnant woman must avoid alcohol or drugs during pregnancy. A prenatal vitamin, appropriate prenatal care, and vaccination against specified infectious diseases can all help to reduce the risk of intellectual disabilities. Other than that, genetic testing prior to conception can be advised in families with a history of intellectual disabilities. Although these tests may spot issues prior to conception, they cannot fix them.

Also check, Benefits of nuts and seeds during pregnancy  

Therapies that can help to manage intellectual disabilities in Children

A child with intellectual disabilities needs multidisciplinary support. Here are some therapies that can help a child with intellectual disabilities.

1.Occupational therapy (OT)

This type of treatment helps children learn life skills such as eating and dressing themselves, bathing, and understanding how to interact with others. The skills they learn are helpful to them living as independently as possible.

Also check, Benefits of behavioural therapies 

2. Physical therapy (PT)

Physical therapy increases a person’s capacity to engage in daily activities, much as occupational therapy. It improves gross motor skills and sensory integration problems, particularly those involving the patient’s capacity to feel and be aware of his body in space. PT aims to teach and enhance abilities like sitting, walking, coordination, and balance. It is most successful by including physical therapy along with occupational therapy in an early intervention programme.

Also check, ODD in kids

3.Speech therapy

Speech therapy is a crucial therapeutic choice for ID patients since they struggle with social communication. It improves an individual’s communication abilities with a certified speech-language pathologist, enabling them to express their needs and wishes more clearly. When speech-language pathologists collaborate with teachers, support staff, families, and the child’s classmates to encourage functional communication in natural contexts, speech treatment for people with ID is frequently most effective.

Also check, Speech therapy exercises for kids


Psychotherapy focuses on assisting kids by having conversations with them individually regarding how to express emotions and manage their anger. It might enhance the kid’s self-worth and it can also help them to become skilled.

Also check, Conduct disorder in Kids


To assist your kid in learning practical skills like dressing themselves, this therapy makes use of visual means like picture cards. To make it easier for them to learn, information is divided up into manageable steps.

Also check, OCD in children

Tips for parents that help children with intellectual disabilities

If parents or caregivers are concerned that their kid may have intellectual disabilities, they should have a word with the doctor or nurse of the child as soon as possible. Early diagnosis and continual assistance can help kids to perform at a high level. Here are some of the tips that can help your child to manage intellectual disabilities:

  • Find out the key points of the child’s intellectual disability, such as their skills, requirements, and other unique characteristics.
  • Make friends with other parents whose kids have intellectual disabilities.
  • Encourage your kid to do some tasks like household chores, dressing, eating, and bathing to promote responsibility and self-reliance.
  • Participate in group activities with your kid. Your child will develop social skills by enrolling in Scouts or taking art classes.
  • Keep contributing. You can track your child’s development and help them practise what they are learning at home by staying in touch with their teachers.

Also check, Tips to manage tantrums in kids 

Foods that help in boosting brain development


All the nuts like almonds, walnuts, cashew, peanuts and hazelnuts are rich in vitamin E and vitamin B6. They help to improve the motor functions in kids who stammer. They are also antioxidants which protect against cell damage. Walnuts are rich in omega 3 fatty acids and are a valuable substance for brain function, memory and thinking abilities. This fatty acid also encourages cognitive functions.

Also check, Best nuts for protein


Apart from nuts, seeds like flax, chia, melon, sesame and pumpkins also contain powerful antioxidants like vitamin E that protect the brain from free radical damage. Sunflower seeds impact overall mood and mental processing powers and therefore it is considered a brain boosting snack. Pumpkin seeds are high in magnesium, copper, and much higher in zinc than other seeds, which help in increasing concentration and memory.

Also check, How to improve memory of your child?


Multiple studies have shown the link between low omega 3 fatty acids and poor development, ADHD, speech delay, poor focus and concentration. These healthy fats are crucial for brain development.

Also check, What are some home benefits of omega 3?


Pure cocoa powder (unsweetened) contains brain boosting components as it is packed with a large number of antioxidants molecules, the main is epicatechin helpful to improve cognition in studies. Hence cocoa powder is also an important brain development food for children.

Also check, More benefits of cocoa powder


Ashwagandha is an adaptogen. It is known to reduce anxiety and stress. Moreover, it increases acetylcholine levels which support better memory, mental focus and intelligence. Ashwagandha also improves communication between nerve cells and stimulates the body’s capacity to heal any nervous system damage.


Brahmi is a superfood for the brain and is believed to sharpen the brain by protecting cells and increasing chemicals associated with learning and memory. It has shown to improve spatial learning and retaining power in kids. That is why in older times, kids were often given Brahmi powder with ghee/honey.

Also check, More benefits of brahmi


Shankhapushpi is a traditional remedy for increasing the functioning of the brain. The powerful antioxidants and flavonoids present in it improve the memory capacity, focus, concentration, calmness, alertness of an individual. Since it is a brain tonic and stimulator, people taking shankhapushpi have improved memory, reasoning, problem-solving, and other cognitive abilities.


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