Sadly, there are lots of misconceptions about individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDDs). In fact, we’ve already written about some of the most prevalent and persistent myths about people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. But because there are so many, we wanted to dispel some more of them.
Those who don’t have direct experience with anyone who has an IDD tend to get their misconceptions from stereotypes and portrayals in the entertainment industry, which aren’t always the most informed, nuanced, or thoughtful. It’s important to combat these perceptions by addressing head on the common myths about people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
Common Misconceptions About People with IDDs
- Myth: Those with IDDs get better healthcare. Actually, the opposite is true; people with IDDs tend to receive a lower level of care and services. This is in spite of their greater need for healthcare overall. Read more about these healthcare inequities in Persons With Disabilities as an Unrecognized Health Disparity Population.
- Myth: People with IDDs can’t learn to read or write. This is a matter of the severity and nature of a person’s intellectual and/or physical impairments. But most people with an IDD have mild to moderate intellectual impairment, and many learn how to read and/or write. It may take them longer, and it may require specific interventions, but it’s very often possible.
- Myth: Individuals with IDDs can’t go to college. Students with intellectual or developmental disabilities can certainly graduate high school with a diploma or a certificate of completion and go on to attend college. This may include participation in the general student body and/or in a specialized program. If you’re interested in exploring college options for young adults with IDDs, ThinkCollege.net is a great resource.
- Myth: Those with IDDs engage in behaviors that can’t be understood. Some people with certain IDDs sometimes engage in less typical behaviors, and often they do so repetitively. But these behaviors have causes, whether they’re physiological, psychological, or an attempt to circumvent a particular disability (e.g., being nonverbal). These behaviors can be understood, and it’s important that loved ones and caregivers learn to do so.
- Myth: People with IDDs can’t receive vocational training. On the contrary! Individuals with intellectual or developmental disabilities can receive vocational training, and it’s highly beneficial for them—as well as for the employers who give them jobs. Here’s some information about vocational rehabilitation services in Florida.
- Myth: Individuals with IDDs crave pity or attention. People with intellectual or developmental disabilities are human—and everything that goes along with it. Being human means desiring attention, affection, empathy, love, and more. But it’s a mistake to think that they want special treatment. They simply want to be treated fairly, with dignity and respect.
- Myth: People with IDDs are dangerous. This is one of the most ignorant and offensive myths about people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Fortunately, this one has faded away significantly, though it was widespread even as recently as a few decades ago. IDDs are not a form of mental illness. And while sometimes they may present problems with aggression, impulse control, or other behaviors, they are in no way associated with a person being malicious, immoral, or dangerous.