The ARC’s Introduction to Intellectual Disabilities

The ARC’s Introduction to Intellectual Disabilities

Understanding developmental disabilities is necessary for staff if they are going to help the community accept the residents, community contact is positive, and to provide care that helps the residents meet their potential.   Intro to Intellectual Disabilities that is on The Arc’s website is very help and useful to understanding more about this invisible disability.


I always felt that residents with intellectual disabilities presented more challenges than physical disabilities.  With physical disabilities the group home resident often will get assistance and special accommodations by kindhearted people. 

Group home residents with intellectual disabilities often are laughed at.
Group home residents who are not laughed at often are treated with impatience.  Since they are in adult bodies, the expectation is that they will behave like and adult.  Adults with this hidden disability present behavior that more closely matches that of a child.  For children, they often present behavior that is associated with children much younger. The challenge is to balance expectations of their chronological age with their level of understanding and development. 
A positive attitude can spread from group home staff to others in the community.


Whenever possible I love to respond to children’s gazes at a resident.  They are receptive to learning about this community and aren’t shy.  As I speak to them I know the adults within earshot are also becoming more educated.  These are some of the things that can be said:

  • Jane thinks in a way that is different than you think
  • John is enjoying the park like you are
  • Everyone does things differently
  • You are good at ____ but Sally here isn’t able to learn the same way you do

I always find it exciting to see people’s faces relax as they become more educated about our group home residents….understanding leads to acceptance!

Jan Pavis
Written by Jan Pavis

I have worked in day programs and group homes for 13 years and have been writing since I was a teen. Some of the positions I have held have included support staff, home manager, newsletter contributor, recreation tech, photographer, day program staff, and assistant home manager. I even have helped in the office on occasion. Currently I work in the optical field and has an content writing business.

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