Cognitive difficulties of children with intellectual difficulties

Children with ID do not seem to process information in the same manner as mental age matched typically developing peers. This aspect is critical for learning.  The important skills for learning are attention, discrimination, organization, memory and transfer.

  • Attention

Children with ID find it difficult to allocate attention towards different subjects and stimuli. The more severe the retardation, the more limited the attention.

  • Discrimination

Children with ID attend to fewer dimensions of a given task. They fail to relate and understand the different cues in identification of an object.  They need the salient and important clues to discriminate an object. For e.g – A child with moderate ID, will find it hard to discriminate between a horse and a donkey but might be able to discriminate between a dog and an elephant.

  • Organization

Children with ID have difficulty developing organizational skills and strategies. They fail to process and store simple groups of concepts. They find it difficult to associate words which are similar . E.g – Salt + Pepper, Table + chair, flowers + vase etc. This skill of organizing simple similar categories either visually or auditorily is poor.

  • Memory

Individuals with ID demonstrate poor recall. The more severe the retardation, the poorer the memory skills. Individuals with mild – moderate ID are able to retain information within long term memory but the retrieval is very slow. Short term memory is quite poor. Children with ID have rapid rate of forgetting, especially in the first 10 seconds. Memory can also be affected by the type of information ( visual or auditory). Auditory memory is poorer than visual memory. Within auditory memory non linguistic information ( like environmental sounds – door bell, car horn, dog bark etc) are easy to remember  than speech

  • Transfer

Transfer or generalization is very difficult for individuals with ID. Learning enhances performance but not generalization.