What Does Having Intellectual Disabilities Mean?

Intellectual disabilities (ID) or learning disabilities is a term used when a person has certain limitations in cognitive functioning and skills, including communication, social and self-care skills.

Intellectual disabilities originate from a wide range of health conditions. Having intellectual disabilities means that the brain has developed differently during childhood and adolescence. This will result in lowered cognitive abilities (intelligence) and impaired adaptive behaviour.  These are the skills needed to manage everyday life such as communication, social relationships and self-care skills. 

In other words:

‘A significantly reduced ability to understand new or complex information, to learn new skills (impaired intelligence) with a reduced ability to cope independently (impaired social functioning) which started before adulthood, with a lasting effect on development’ 
Source: Department of Health (2001) Valuing People.

Many people with intellectual disabilities also have autism, so can be eligible for Special Olympics GB.  However, some people with autism do not have intellectual disabilities and so are not eligible to be part of Special Olympics GB. 

People who do not have intellectual disabilities but do have conditions such as specific learning difficulties (e.g. Dyslexia, Dyspraxia, Attention Deficit Disorder), or mental health issues (e.g. depression, psychosis) or physical/sensory conditions (e.g. visual impairment, spinal cord injury) are not eligible to complete in Special Olympics GB.

However, the majority of people with intellectual disabilities also have other health conditions, including, physical, sensory and psychological, which means that many people competing in Special Olympics GB, will have additional disabilities as well as intellectual disabilities. 

To see our Eligibility Criteria in full, please click HERE.

Please note: Children aged 6 - 7 may be involved in a Special Olympics training programme, but may not enter official competitions. Our Young Athlete programme is available to children between the ages of 2-7.