November 13, 2019
Understanding Cognitive Disabilities
by Amber Carlton
“Cognitive disability” is a broad term that encompasses a variety of conditions and is not always well-defined. In general, however, it refers to individuals who have greater difficulty with one or more mental tasks than the average person. Cognitive disabilities can affect memory, the ability to problem-solve, the ability to focus, and visual, linguistic, reading, verbal, or math comprehension.
There are two main areas clinicians look at when diagnosing a cognitive disability:
Intellectual functioning: A person’s ability to plan, comprehend, and reason.
Adaptive functioning: How well a person can apply social and practical skills to everyday life.
Some cognitive disabilities are genetic, like Down’s Syndrome or Fragile X Syndrome. Some are the result of brain chemistry or structure. Others are acquired due to a physiological change such as a traumatic brain injury (TBI) or dementia.
According to the World Health Organization:
- Approximately three percent of the world’s population has some sort of cognitive disability.
- Of these, about 85 percent have a mild cognitive disability, such as a learning disability like dyslexia or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
- Only about four percent of individuals are considered to have severe cognitive disabilities.
At The Independence Center, we offer a variety of resources – like skills classes, peer support groups, and assistance with disability benefits – to help people with cognitive disabilities live more independently.
To learn more about these and other resources, visit our Center for Independent Living page or give us a call at 719-471-8181.