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About Intellectual Disabilities

Children and adults with intellectual disabilities inspire us every day at Special Olympics events around the world. But what are intellectual disabilities?

What is Intellectual Disability?

Intellectual disability (ID) is a term used to describe a person with certain limitations in cognitive functioning and other skills, including communication and self-care.

Fragile X Syndrome

Fragile X is a genetic condition that affects a person’s development, especially behavior and the ability to learn.

Down Syndrome

Down syndrome describes a set of cognitive and physical symptoms that result from having an extra copy or part of a copy of chromosome 21.


Autism is a complex neurological and developmental condition that affects how a person learns, communicates and interacts with others.

Other Intellectual Disabilities

There are many other types of intellectual disabilities—some have known causes, while others remain unknown.

How to Speak With People With Intellectual Disabilities

A Resource for Healthcare Professionals, Parents, and Anyone Communicating With Our Athletes.