What is a Cognitive Disability? | What are the types of Cognitive Disability?

Disability is a condition or disorder that restricts the main activities of life. Working, learning, and communication are the most common examples of the most important activities in life. There are multiple types of disabilities, and a cognitive disability is one of them.

The term “cognition” represents the psychological processes involved in learning, recognizing, and understanding. The cognitive disability has the capability to damage the skill to communicate in written or spoken language, learn and process information, and correctly derive information from body language and social cues.

The most common examples of cognitive disabilities are dyscalculia, dyslexia, attention deficit, autism, aphasia, and loss of memory and intelligence. This article mainly describes different aspects of cognitive disability.

What is a Cognitive Disability?

Cognitive disability is a term applied when an individual has some specific limitations in his/her mental functions and abilities (like social skills, learning, self-help, communication, etc.). The cognitive disability is also called intellectual disability.

These disabilities can slow down the learning and developing process of a child more than a normal child. Cognitive disabilities may cause due to a brain abnormality, genetic disorder, illness, or injury. They can identify with standardized intelligence and adaptive behavior tests.

cognitive disability

Cognitive disabilities can be found in millions of people, including people with traumatic brain injury, people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, and people with learning limitations like autism and dyslexia.

People with cognitive impairment may have impaired motor, social, or learning skills that may decrease their performance in the workplace. The cognitive impairments may cause the following restrictions:

  • The memory loss for short- or long-term.
  • Difficulty with speaking, writing, and reading.
  • Problems with orientation.
  • Diminished or distractibility attention period.
  • Disability to express oneself, like finding the precise words in a conversation.
  • Disability to resolve problems.

Cognitive disabilities range from less serious disabilities (like attention deficit and dyslexia disorder) to more serious disabilities (like hereditary diseases and brain damage).

Types of Cognitive Disabilities

Cognitive disability has the following major types:

  • Dyslexia
  • Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
  • Brain Injury
  • Genetic Disability

1) Dyslexia

Dyslexia is one of the most common types of cognitive disability. Dyslexia is a disability of language learning.

Dyslexia disability

This type of disability is most common all over the world. According to a survey, around 15% to 20% of people have a language learning disability. Dyslexia is mainly a type of reading disability, and there are some evidences that represent that Dyslexia is a genetic disability. You can easily observe this disability in men and women that live around you.

Dyslexia disabilities include trouble of deciphering a single word, and insufficient speech processing performance. The absence of this skill is often unexpected when compared to people’s age and other academic and cognitive skills. The person has not experienced any other kind of sensory or developmental disability.

In the case of Dyslexia disability, the person can face problems with various types of limitations such as writing, spelling, reading, and language.

2) Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

ADHD is a disease that affects a person’s skills such as paying attention, standing still, and focusing. Due to this disability, a person may find it difficult to focus on work or topics, or he may act irresponsibly.

This type of cognitive disability starts in childhood but can’t be identified until adulthood or adolescence.

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, cognitive disability

A person with ADHD may face problems doing homework or working from home and jump from one activity to another.

People having ADHD may also forget to perform homework or any other work that they decide to perform. Such a person may make unintended mistakes or feel problems paying attention to his/her work.

People with ADHD can face difficulties to arrange their tasks and activities and disturb others. Such people may talk too much, feel restless, or fidget.

3) Brain Injury

Brain damage or injury may cause due to different reasons such as meningitis, brain tumors, TBI (traumatic brain injury), illness, or stroke, etc.

Every brain injury is unique; There is no trustworthy method to predict how a specific injury can affect a person’s brain. When a specific injury damages a person’s brain, a healthcare provider performs a variety of neurological and psychological tests to identify the damaged area of ​​the brain.

Some injuries have minor brain damage and behavioral effects. In contrast, other brain injuries have severe effects on the brain.  The severity of brain damage determines the outcome of a person’s skill to process information.

4) Genetic Disability

These types of cognitive diseases affect people individually. Dementia, Autism, and Down syndrome are examples of genetic disability.

Genetic Disability, cognitive disability

Some people with these limitations have the capability to work at a higher level compared to others.

For example, a person with the syndrome can spend his life independently at a sufficiently high level, while another person with Down syndrome may require continued help with his daily life activities. The more difficult it is for a person to experience cognitive impairment, the more complex it is for an individual to understand.

What are the signs of cognitive and intellectual disabilities?

The most common signs of cognitive disability are given below:

  • Insufficient understanding of social rules
  • Significant delays in motor skills, like walking or talking slower than other children.
  • Bad problem-solving abilities.
  • Speaking problems
  • Incapability to recognize the results of actions.
  • Bad memory

Diagnosis of Cognitive & Intellectual Disability

Doctors at IU Health’s Riley Child Development Center conduct an extensive exam to identify cognitive and intellectual disabilities.

During this assessment, the doctor will record a comprehensive exam to learn about your child’s health issues, life, and history of her/his behavior. The doctor will also monitor how the child interacts and behave with him/her during the assessment.

Your doctor may also ask you to fill out a short survey. If necessary, your child can be brought back for a physical exam, language test, or psychological test. This test is usually done in the form of a game or any other activity that will allow the child’s health care provider to recognize signs of cognitive or intellectual disability and make a precise diagnosis.

After your child has been assessed, you will get a brief report of his/her exact situation and information on resources in your community from where you may get assistance. These reports will help all parents understand what kind of support their child needs.

Clinical VS Functional Classifications

A cognitive disability may observe from a clinical or functional perspective. The clinical diagnosis includes dementia, traumatic brain injury (TBI), Down syndrome, and autism. Less critical cognitive disabilities are general learning limitations, dyscalculia (math difficulties), dyslexia, and attention deficit disorder (ADD).

According to the medical point of view, clinical diagnosis is very beneficial for treatment, but classification according to functional disability is more useful for web accessibility.

Functional classification focuses on the challenges and skills of the user without considering his or her behavioral or medical reasons.

The functional diagnoses include:

  1. Disability of visual comprehension
  2. Disability of math comprehension
  3. Memory loss
  4. Disability of verbal, linguistic, and reading comprehension
  5. Attention issues
  6. Problem-solving disability

Functional classification is very helpful for web accessibility because it addresses the interests of web developers and designers. Letting the developer know that an individual has autism that is only significant if the developer knows that people with autism may encounter barriers to content online.

In contrast, letting the developer know that an individual has difficulty understanding math which provides the developer with a meaningful context. The developer just wants to understand and consider the capabilities of his users.

Phrases of Brain

Following are some major brain phrases used for describing the problems:

  • Attention: Skill to concentrate and focus on the present work
  • Math Processing: the skill to identify symbols and numbers and the skill to understand and calculate simple math.
  • Language Processing: The brain skill to understand spoken or written language.
  • Logic and Reasoning: The skill to plan, prioritize and argue
  • Processing speed: The speed at which the brain processes information.
  • Long-term memory: It is the brain’s skill to save and retrieve information for future use.
  • Short-term memory: It is the brain’s skill to save information for a short time.

Math processing, language processing, logic & reasoning, and long-term memory skills are part of advanced thinking. Short-term memory, processing speed, and attention skills are part of automated processing.

Information Processing In Brain

The following illustration represents how information enters our brains, goes through automated processing, uses higher thoughts, and produces results (decision-making).

information processing in brain
Information Processing in Brain

Here are the cognitive skills you applied:

1) Automatic Processing

  • Attention: This skill helps you to maintain your focus on your work. For example, when you want to buy a book, you focus on buying a book (even if you are disturbed by a call or text message).
  • Processing Speed: This skill helps to manage the information processing speed according to the requirements. For example, the website has no time limit, so you can spend as much time as you need reading the information on the site.
  • Short-term memory: This website is relatively short, so you don’t have to remember the first contents of the page when you get to the bottom of the page.

2) Higher Thinking

    • Logic & Reasoning: In this case, you logically choose a product (such as a book) and select it based on some specific reasons.
    • Language Processing: In this process, you read different words and letters written on the book’s pages and press the button to buy it.
    • Math Processing: In this process, your brain reads the mathematical number that represents the book cost. After calculation, you made a decision to buy it according to your budget.

3) Decision

    • After reading the book price, you make a decision to buy it and press the “Buy Now” button.

FAQ Section

What are the examples of the cognitive disability?

  1. Dyscalculia
  2. Dyslexia
  3. Attention deficit
  4. Autism
  5. Aphasia
  6. Loss of memory
  7. Loss of intelligence

What is cognitive disability?

Cognitive disability, also called intellectual disability, is a term that refers to a broad range of conditions characterized by limitations in intellectual functioning and adaptive behavior. It is a disorder that usually initiates before the age of 18.

What are the Causes of Cognitive Disabilities?

  1. Premature birth
  2. Genetic and chromosomal conditions
  3. Cognitive disabilities may also occur because of prenatal factors like maternal malnutrition, exposure to toxins or drugs, or maternal infections during pregnancy.
  4. The low weight of the child at birth time
  5. Perinatal factors
  6. Developmental disorders of the child

What is the differenc between Cognitive disability and Intellectual disability?

Cognitive disability is a learning disorder. People with such problems may have difficulties in understanding, identifying, choosing, and perceiving. There may be a problem or disorder in processing short-term memory or printed text. This can be a matter of numbers or some form of imagination. In general, there are things that hinder students’ progress.

Intellectual disability is a particular cognitive impairment that can lead to low IQ scores and significant issues in adapting students to new environments, such as living and working environments. This disability is more difficult to understand and apply the newly gained information. A person (like Mary) with an intellectual disability was formerly referred to as ” ”mentally challenged” or ”mentally retarded’‘.

How may Cognitive disabilities affect?

Children having knowledgeable limitations may take a long time to learn, speak, walk, and attend to their personal needs (i.e., food and clothing). Such type of children faces many problems to learn in school. Ultimately, they will learn, but they will need a long time to learn about their skills.

What are the symptoms of cognitive disability?

  • Problems concentrating
  • Problems remembering
  • Difficulty understanding
  • Difficulty speaking
  • Problems with executive functioning skills, such as planning, organizing, problem-solving, decision-making, time management, and impulse control.

How to treat cognitive disability?

Research has indicated that engaging in activities such as playing games, learning a musical instrument, reading books, and participating in social interactions can have positive effects on preserving brain function. These activities may contribute to a more satisfying life, help maintain mental function, and slow down mental decline. Additionally, memory training and other forms of cognitive training have shown potential for improving cognitive function.

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