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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Please read the following FAQ before using the “Submit your message” form:

Who are people with intellectual disabilities? Is that a polite name for mental retardation?

People with intellectual disabilities have a mental disability.

A mental disorder in itself does not necessarily lead to disability. Mental disorders differ from each other: some last for a short time and do not have serious consequences for the patient’s life, others become chronic and significantly change a person’s life.

Disability is a social concept. It is assigned if, due to illness or injury, a person cannot (or can, but with difficulty) independently move, study, work and communicate. Panic attacks, depression, and in some cases schizophrenia and bipolar affective disorder (BAD) may not affect the above abilities – in such cases there will be no basis for a disability.

Disability can be obtained by patients with severe chronic mental disorders: for example, people with schizophrenia, mental retardation, the consequences of traumatic brain injuries, strokes and cerebral hemorrhages, people with dementia. Severe bipolar disorder or recurring episodes of depression can also lead to disability. It is important that the cause of disability will not be the disorder itself, but the inability to do without help in daily life. In official documents, this is called a disability.

In order for a person to be assigned a disability, you need to officially confirm that he needs social assistance.

Do people with intellectual disabilities understand that they have a mental disability?

Most people with a mental disability understand that they have been assigned a disability group. Some people with mental disorders do not understand that they are people with disabilities. But, as a rule, these are patients with markedly reduced memory and intelligence (for example, with dementia), and in their case, a lack of understanding of their social status is the least of the problems.

How to behave when you communicate with such a person?

A mental disorder will not necessarily be noticeable when communicating with a person. The same applies to disability. But if you know about the disability of the interlocutor or his relative, it is better to postpone asking about it until you get to know each other better, so as not to create a situation in which everyone will be embarrassed.

It is also not worth asking why a healthy-looking person with a disability does not work. Chronic mental disorders often develop in people at a young or adult age. A person may appear physically healthy, but the decreased willpower and thought disturbances of schizophrenia, for example, impair the ability to work just like any other serious illness or injury.

Can people with intellectual disabilities marry and raise children?

People with mental disabilities start relationships, get married and have children. Not everyone does this, and the reason here is not only the disease itself, but also its stigmatization.

Any prohibition based on social status is discrimination. In itself, disability and the inability to work does not mean that a person should be deprived of life in society and the chance to start a family. Health and success in family relationships are not directly related. After all, there are a lot of healthy and able-bodied people who can’t cope with the upbringing of their children and even harm them.

A person with a disability does not stop being a person. Even if it seems ridiculous or ridiculous to us that such people also want relationships and sex, such a reaction characterizes us rather than people with disabilities.

People with severe mental disorders have the right to have sex like everyone else if they want to. Sex is an important source of positive emotions and a way to strengthen relationships, including for people with disabilities.

A separate role is played by sexual education for children and adolescents with mental problems. It is not only about contraceptive skills, but more about learning about your body and the rules of sexual safety. A child or teenager with an intellectual disability can easily become a victim of sexual assault, and education can help reduce the risk.

Is inclusive education for people with intellectual disabilities a good thing? And mentally healthy children will not suffer?
  • The key to the success of inclusive education is the acceptance of a different student or student by the group and teachers. Without this, education will not be useful and may even harm.

    Parents of other children may fear that a child with special needs will draw all the attention of teachers or disrupt classroom discipline – and this will affect the performance of everyone else. There are two answers to this.

    Firstly, even a mentally healthy student can violate discipline and interfere with others. Secondly, inclusive education requires good preparation not only for teachers and the class, but also for the child himself. Not every child with a mental disorder can go to a regular school. For such children, special training programs have been developed, including individual and home-based ones.

    On the other hand, if inclusive education is properly organized, students of this class receive a unique social experience, improve communication skills and emotional response. After all, study is a source of not only knowledge, but also social skills, and it is difficult to say which is more important.

    The benefits for students with mental disabilities are also clear – they receive an education with good prospects and are better prepared for life in society.

Does a person with intellectual disabilities mean complete incapacity?

No, it doesn’t. Incapacity is a legal category that means the inability of a person to direct their actions or understand their meaning. It requires proof in a special order – through a court session and a forensic psychiatric examination.

By itself, disability due to a mental disorder, even the first group, does not mean automatic deprivation of legal capacity. And not every person with a mental disability can be incapacitated.

Are people with disabilities dangerous?

There are no studies that confirm that people with a mental disability are more dangerous than people without it. At the same time, studies show that patients suffering from mental disorders are more likely to become victims of crime than criminals. Patients with mental disorders and those who have received a disability are a vulnerable social group that needs protection and support from society, and not additional control from law enforcement agencies.

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