Learning Disability (LD) and Mental Retardation (MR)
By Inderbir Kaur Sandhu, Ph.D
My 5 year old son has been having many learning issues. Speech,
attention, so on. He recently was assessed through his IEP program to
have an IQ of 67. Family Services is referring me to a MRDD assessment.
What does a IQ of 67 mean to me? Please clarify!
There are two separate issues here; a learning disorder/s, and mental
condition based on an intelligence test. An IQ of 67 is usually a range
for mild mental retardation. This is probably why he has been referred
to an MRDD assessment. It would be best to determine if this is true as
he would be given the necessary help required for his condition.
Individuals with mental retardation also have a significant impairment
in the ability to handle the demands of daily living. This condition
clearly has an impact on learning, communication, self-help skills, and
social skills, during play or in a work setting. The degree of
difficulty can range from mild to moderate to profound. However, he may
be a little young to determine this for sure.
A learning disability, on the other hand is regarded as a disorder in
one or more of the processes involved in understanding and using spoken
or written language. Learning disabilities show up in different ways in
different individuals. They can have problems with understanding or
remembering what they see (visual perception), which can make activities
like reading letters or copying shapes very difficult. They can also
have problems with understanding or remembering what they hear (auditory
perception). A learning disability can cause difficulties in math,
reading, writing, or spelling which in turn can upset the IQ scores.
In general, individuals with learning disabilities have average or
above-average intelligence. Their learning disability, however, creates
a gap between ability and performance. They tend not to do well in
environments which are not suited to their learning style, but they can
learn very well when taught appropriately, which is why they need an IEP.
Both these conditions are distinctly separate and should not be confused
as the same. You did not indicate his individual detailed scores and the
test used, so it is difficult to determine if his scores are low only on
one or more areas. It would be advisable to seek a professional who is
able to suggest the best educational intervention for his concerns. It
may be a good idea to speak to the school about his condition and allow
the tests suggested for him. All the best to you and your son..