Intellectual Disabilities

Psychiatric Causes of Intellectual Disabilities

Tammy Reynolds, B.A., C.E. Zupanick, Psy.D. & Mark Dombeck, Ph.D.

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)

A leading cause of intellectual disabilities (ID, formerly mental retardation) is autism spectrum disorder (ASD). A person may be diagnosed with both ASD and an ID. ASD has two primary symptoms. First, people with ASD have trouble with communication and social interaction. Second, they demonstrate repetitive patterns of behaviors, interests, or activities. Some examples are repetitive speech, ritualized patterns of behavior, or fixation upon certain objects. Approximately 40% of people with ID will also have ASD. However, nearly 70% of people with ASD also have ID (reported in La Malfa, G., Lassi, S., Bertelli, M., & Placidi, G.F., (2004). See also Thus, while ASD and ID share some similarities, they are not the same.

autism word collageAlthough similar, the two disorders are often difficult to tease apart. People with ASD might appear to meet the criteria for ID because their IQ scores are low. However, these low test scores may not reflect intelligence per se. Instead, the low scores might result from problems with test taking itself. These test-taking problems result from communication and social limitations. Since IQ testing relies on both of these abilities to some extent, IQ scores may be artificially low. Some children with ASD may have an average IQ. However, they cannot demonstrate their abilities because they cannot communicate their understanding of the testing protocols. In contrast, children with intellectual disabilities lack this intellectual capacity or understanding. Although the two conditions are distinct, they can and do frequently co-occur. More information about co-occurring disorders is found in the Diagnostic Section.


Clinic Locations

Erath County
906 Lingleville Highway
Stephenville, TX 76401
(254) 968-4181

Hood County
104 Pirate Drive
Granbury, TX 76048
(817) 573-2662

Somervell County
301 Bo Gibbs
Glen Rose, TX 76043
(254) -552-2090

Johnson County
1601 North Anglin Street
Cleburne, TX 76031
(817) 558-1121

Palo Pinto County
214 SW 26th Ave, Suite A
Mineral Wells, TX 76068
(940) 325-9541

Parker County
1715 Santa Fe Drive
Weatherford, TX 76086
(817) 599-7634

Administration Office
2101 West Pearl Street
Granbury, TX 76048
(817) 579-4400


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