9 Ways To Support Someone With An Intellectual Disability

What Is An Intellectual Disability?

Generally appearing from birth, intellectual disabilities are demonstrated through pronounced learning disabilities. It is characterized by intellectual development that deviates from the average standard. People with intellectual disabilities have difficulty thinking, conceptualizing, communicating, and making decisions. Down Syndrome is one of the most well-known genetic disorders that leads to intellectual disability. 

There are many ways you can care for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities – be it a child, young adult, or the elderly.

At Complete Connect, our disability services are designed to give you the necessary disability support and services to elevate your quality of life. As a registered NDIS provider, our disability services encompass allied health, home care, support coordination and community nursing. Know that with Complete Connect, you are our first priority.


Here are the things you could do to support people with intellectual disabilities:

1. Use Simplified Language

Communication is essential in every way of life. However, people with intellectual disabilities face difficulty in communication which is why it is your job to use simplified language in conversations. Don’t use words or phrases that are hard for them to understand; try to make it as simple and straightforward as possible. You should also speak slowly and with a louder voice to help them understand. Don’t talk fast because they might not be able to keep up.

2. Set Expectations

Another thing that can help is to set expectations for them. It is better to make plans beforehand to give them time for preparation. Inform them about their schedule beforehand so they can take as much time as they can and know exactly what they are going to do and when.

3. Don’t Take Offense

Some behaviours and mannerisms might be strange to you but try to understand that they are not disrespecting you. People with intellectual disabilities have their coping mechanisms, which may seem strange to others, but they help them stay calm. Offer help but don’t be offended if the answer is negative, give them space, and don’t impose yourself if they don’t need your help in something.

4. Draw Boundaries

A person with an intellectual disability might do something bad unintentionally, your job is to make them understand what they should and shouldn’t do. Draw boundaries for them and do not let them get away with bad things. It will help them understand better behaviour.

5. Expect A Lot Of Questions

Be prepared to answer a ton of questions. People with intellectual disabilities can be very curious about everything going around. They might ask you all the time what you’re doing and why, you can answer the questions you are comfortable with, but if you think a question is too invasive, it is okay to refuse politely. Tell them you are uncomfortable answering certain questions but make sure you don’t sound rude.

6. Be Patient

The key to understanding someone with an intellectual disability is patience. You must take time to understand them and give them time to get things done at their own pace; you must not hurry them to complete tasks. Communicate with them and try to listen to their concerns, adopt a reassuring attitude and build a good relationship with them.

7. Treat Them As Your Peers

Do not think of them as a client but treat them as you treat your peers. They like jokes, challenges, and teasing, just like you do. Develop a friendly relationship with them and don’t look down on them.

8. Be Enthusiastic

Try to be enthusiastic in front of them. We know that staying upbeat is not always possible and if it gets too overwhelming for you. It is okay to take some time for yourself. Tell them you are going for a break and you will be back. Regain your energy and come back to them with a fresh mind.

9. Ask Their Opinion

When you are making a choice for them, it is best to involve them in the process. They might find it hard to make decisions, but they can have opinions on things. Make sure you ask about their thoughts and value their words.


If you have someone with an intellectual disability who needs support from a professional caregiver, contact Complete Connect and let our devoted support workers take care of the rest.

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