March is Intellectual Disability Awareness Month
Intellectual Disability can affect YOU too!
Of every thousand people living in the Western Cape (and our population is over 5 million) 25 have an IQ between 50 and 80. Yet not nearly enough is known about intellectual disability. People respond very differently to the words ‘intellectual disability’ – some regard it as a curse or a tragedy, while others are confused about what it means and what the causes are.
Intellectual disability refers to a disability that limits the way a person’s brain functions and learns, along with the ability to adapt or relate to the surrounding world to the same extent as others. It is usually diagnosed before the age of 18 and is life long. It can affect anyone: any mother can give birth to a baby with intellectual disability, or any person could have a brain injury as a result of an accident or illness.
The extent of intellectual disability can vary greatly between individuals, from mild to severe or profound, and may or may not be accompanied by other physical conditions. In some cases a person may be unable to walk, talk or feed himself, and be completely reliant on care workers to tend to every need.
But some people with intellectual disability are able to communicate, engage in social activities and participate in community life, with little additional assistance or intervention. As with any individual, people with intellectual disability are capable of acquiring many skills and achieving many accomplishments; they simply need the opportunity to be included in society in order to make their own, unique, contributions.
The March campaign calls for the Human Rights of all people with intellectual disability. All persons deserve equal rights and respect; all persons should be free from unfair discrimination, unequal treatment, abuse and exploitation.
Over the years Cape Mental Health has pioneered services in response to the gaps in service delivery by government departments and, with sufficient funding, plans to duplicate the Eagles programme in other communities.
What causes Intellectual Disability?
It is of crucial importance for young people and parents-to-be to understand the damage that the use of alcohol and drugs during pregnancy can have on the foetus.
For most of us, living a 'normal' life is something we take for granted. We grow up, go to school, graduate and start a career and hardly ever give a second thought to those who are unable to do just that. Cape Mental Health calls on you to make a difference this month by respecting the rights of those living with intellectual disability to enjoy a life of dignity, inclusion in all the privileges and opportunities afforded by our society to the others, and opportunities to develop their abilities to their full potential.