Intellectual and developmental disabilities

People with an intellectual and developmental disability or great learning difficulties are the largest group of disabled people in our society. The main symptom of an intellectual disability is a limited ability to understand and apply language.

Training and research therefore have a great focus on precisely language and communication training. The 'main topic' as regards measures is training to be able to manage as independently as possible in everyday life.

Approaches to intellectual and developmental disability must be viewed in a lifespan perspective. As learning can require a great deal of time and effort, it is necessary to consider what may be learned and for what purpose. There is therefore a focus on conceptual and language learning, and learning of everyday skills (daily life activities).

Recent approaches to teaching people with intellectual and developmental disabilities focus on traditional school subjects like foreign languages (e.g. English), mathematics (in the sense of practical calculation), and social studies (geography, history and science). Here one sees a shift in the view of the learning that can be achieved by disabled people.

Textbooks have been replaced by concrete experience and learning rudimentary skills. Intellectually-disabled people become part of the mainstream by learning foreign languages, e.g. through pop music lyrics. Geography lessons are linked to trips to different destinations through exploration-oriented teaching. History, which requires an understanding of the past and present, is linked to the person's own history. Learning takes place in the specific situations in which the knowledge will function.

There is also a growing focus on vocational skills, and how people with an intellectual and developmental disability can be employed at different jobs.

The main target of all teaching and habilitation for people with an intellectual and developmental disability is quality of life.

Research groups

The research groups at the Faculty of Educational Sciences conduct research on language and communication, and teaching and habilitation measures that focus on quality of life.

Related study programmes / courses

  • Master's programme in Special Needs Education, with specialization in intellectual and developmental disability
Published Mar. 14, 2013 8:35 AM - Last modified Apr. 16, 2018 12:48 PM