Cognitive Disorder


The American Psychiatric Association definition of mental retardation, as published in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV-TR) is used to define cognitive disorder. An individual would present with mental retardation if all of the following are present:

  • significantly subaverage intellectual functioning
    • an IQ of approximately 70 or below;
  • significant limitations in adaptive functioning in at least 2 of the following skill areas:
    • communication;
    • self care;
    • home living;
    • social/interpersonal skills;
    • use of community resources;
    • self direction;
    • functional academic skills;
    • work;
    • leisure;
    • health and safety;
  • onset must occur before age 18 years

The degree of severity reflecting intellectual impairment:

  • Mild: IQ level 50-55 to approximately 70
  • Moderate: IQ level 35-49 to 50-55
  • Severe: IQ level 20-25 to 35-40
  • Profound: IQ level below 20 or 25
  • Severity Unspecified: When there is strong presumption of Cognitive Disorder but the person’s intelligence is untestable by standard tests (American Psychiatric Association, 2000)

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Students who have been diagnosed with a Cognitive Disorder by a qualified assessor may require a range of school based services depending on level of need and functioning. Programming decisions are made by the student’s program planning team.

When it has been determined that a student’s needs cannot be met through accommodations, modified courses, or alternate programs and courses,an Alternate Functional Curriculum may be required. Students who require a functional curriculum are identified as having moderate, severe or profound impairments in cognition and severe deficits in adaptive functioning as evaluated through the comprehensive assessment process.

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