Disability and Development Disability Can Have Pervasive Term Paper

Pages: 5 (1575 words)  ·  Style: APA  ·  Bibliography Sources: 2  ·  File: .docx  ·  Topic: Psychology

Disability and Development

Disability can have pervasive and devastating effects on the development of individuals, and subsequently their personal and social functioning. When disability does not necessarily affect one's physical functioning or appearance, as in the case of people with intellectual disability, certain challenges arise that may impede the ability to perform in ways non-disabled people take for granted. These challenges may include obtaining employment, succeeding academically, being accepted in social situations, and even living without symptoms of psychiatric illness.

Intellectual disability is a relatively common occurrence. According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, approximately 2.5 million people in the United States have an intellectual disability, which accounts for 1% of the American population. What exactly is an intellectual disability (ID)? There are three criteria used to characterize ID. First, the individual's level of intellectual functioning, or IQ level, is below 70 to 75. Secondly, the individual has marked limitations in adaptive skill areas, or basic life skills such as basic communication, caring for themselves, social skills, leisure activity, self-direction, safety and health, functional reading, writing and math skills, and the ability to work. Furthermore, people with intellectual disabilities may find life more difficult in general and require support and care in order to facilitate development and the acquisition of necessary life skills.

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Intellectual disabilities are often comorbid with other conditions, and it is common to find an increased occurrence of psychopathology among this population. Research has been conducted to explore the relationship between intellectual disability and psychopathology. Finding from this research may suggest possibilities for interventions that may improve development and quality of life for people with ID.

Term Paper on Disability and Development Disability Can Have Pervasive Assignment

Comorbid severe mental health problems complicating intellectual disability are a common and costly public health problem" (Einfeld et al., 2006, p,1981). It is therefore important to fully understand how and why intellectually disabled individuals are affected by psychopathology and what interventions may be used in prevention and treatment of mental illness. It is well-known that mental health problems among people with ID begin in early childhood, but Einfeld et al. (2006) sought to investigate how psychopathology evolves and changes over time, and to what extent it continues into adulthood among this population.

Findings of this study indicated that initial high levels of behavioral and emotional disturbance exhibited by individuals with ID only decreased slowly over time, and tended to remain at high levels into adulthood. Where symptoms of psychopathology did decrease over time, it occurred more in boys than girls, and was more apparent among participants with mild intellectual disability and not in the more severely disabled. These observations were seen in all of the subscales except for the social-relating disturbance subscale, which increased over time. This indicates that regardless of whether psychopathology improved or worsened over time, the level of social functioning among individuals with ID significantly and consistently decreased. This can have serious ramifications when it comes to life skills necessary for success and happiness, such as functioning in the workplace and establishing and maintaining friendships. Einfeld et al. (2006) conclude that "the problem of psychopathology comorbid with intellectual disability is both substantial and persistent and suggest the need for effective mental health interventions" (p.1981).

Another study that examined the prevalence of psychopathology among young people with intellectual disability and how it manifests and changes through development was conducted by Tonge & Einfeld (2000). The results showed that around 40% of young people sampled with ID had psychiatric disorders that persisted longer than four years. Also, a change in symptomatology, either improvement or deterioration was observed in approximately 14%. Furthermore, the prevalence of psychopathology is three to four times greater among young people with ID than the population at large. This astounding statistic calls for accurate and timely assessment and diagnoses while children are young, in order for the appropriate treatment can be pursued. One instrument found to be successful in the assessment of emotional and behavioral problems among children with ID is the Developmental Behaviour Checklist (Clarke et al., 2003).

Does psychopathology cormorbid with intellectual disability affect men and women in the same way? Tsakanikos et al. (2006) sought to explore psychiatric comorbidity in 295 men and 295 women with ID and associated social impairments. These researchers found that personality disorder was more prevalent among men, and adjustment reaction and dementia were more commonly observed among women. Also, women were more likely than men to be married or in a stable relationship. These crucial differences in the mental health needs between men and women need to be taken into account and fully understood so that the most effective interventions can be designed and employed with this population.

Another factor in the course of psychopathology among individuals with ID is exposure to life events, whether they are positive or negative (Tsakanikos et al., 2006). Tsakanikos et al. (2006) studied the association between life events and mental health problems in people with ID and found that single exposure to life events was related to the presence of schizophrenia, personality disorders and depression, while exposure to multiple life events was related to the presence of personality disorder, adjustment reaction and depression. Furthermore, the researchers suggest that people with ID have an increased vulnerability to life events, which may contribute to the presence of psychopathology.

Another investigation of the effects that life events have on psychopathology among individuals with ID was conducted by Esbensen & Benson (2006). These researchers also tried to utilize their findings as a factor in prediction of behavioral problems and depression in this population. Results indicated that problems in behavior were both correlated with and predicted by exposure to multiple events and the experience of negative life events. The predictive ability of life events was dependent on the measure of dysfunctional behavior that was selected, as symptoms of depression were correlated with all life events, but were only predicted by exposure to multiple events and life events perceived as negative. Furthermore "positive life events were not associated with concurrent behavior problems" (Esbensen & Benson, 2006, p.248).

The necessity to focus in on the circumstances surrounding life events was demonstrated through the research of Hamilton et al. (2005). These researchers found that the associations between behavioral and emotional problems and life events experienced by individuals with ID were significant, but rather weak, and that the strength of the associations varied within the sub-groups of the participants with ID, since the severity and type of disability was diverse across this population. Furthermore, the extent to which mental health problems are experienced in relation to life events could be related to the period of time when the event took place, the circumstances surrounding the event, as well as the personal meaning that the intellectually disabled individual attaches to the event all must be taken into account. Doing so would ensure a more effective assessment and intervention.

Aside from the challenges posed by mental health problems and disability itself, social stigma also affects individuals with ID. In reality, people with Id are able to successfully perform several types of jobs and can be dependable employees. The types of jobs that people in this population excel at are dependent on individual strengths and interests, the same as people in the general population. According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, persistent unfounded myths, stereotypes and fears cause many employers to still exclude people with ID from employment in the workplace. The common beliefs that workers with ID will be frequently absent, or necessitate costly insurance policies are untrue, and only result in discrimination.

Developmental and psychiatric difficulties are experienced by a large number of individuals that have intellectual disability. These problems can have profound effects on several areas of life, including their ability to acquire and maintain employment, which further determines their ability to live and function independently. Appropriate assessment and interventions… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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