Does my Son have an intellectual disabillity?

My son is five nearly six. He is awaiting an Autism assessment. He met all of his early milestones within the normal time frame apart from speech and language. He had his two and a half year development assesment, he had severe speech and language delay so was referred to speech therapy. He was reaching all of the other milestones but not quite. He was re-assesd age three and the result was the same. He was assesed by a community peadiatric nurse who he wouldn’t comply with. I knew that he could do a lot of the things she asked him to as I had seen him do them. She had to mark him as low. Then he saw a Peadiatrician who suggested Global Developmental Delay or Autism. He attends a mainstream setting with 1:1 support we are hoping to send him to a local Specialist school soon. His early years assesment at school put him at very behind for his age,even though I know again he can do a lot of the things they say he can’t. He does have language delay although his speech is coming on and I wouldn’t call it severe now. Academically he is a year or two behind. He does have a lot of trouble with social and communication skills. He may have mild or very mild motor skills delays. Mild self care skills delays and he isn’t toilet trained yet. He has a very good long term memory and is now showing good problem solving skills. He seemed to have a good visual spatial memory in public places even at the age of three. I don’t know if this would mean an intellectual disability?

An add on to my last post. He was able to point out facial features at 15 months, recognised numbers at two and knew his alphabet at almost four

Hi. I can’t comment on whether or not your Son has an intellectual disability, but only give a comparative example of what I have heard my wife say about her Son, who is now 40. At school they thought that he was slow, but he had a reading age far in excess of the other children. This was due to eyesight problems. He has dyspraxia, so motor skills and coordination are not great. He has some difficulty with social skills and having a conversation as he does not seem to understand about waiting for an appropriate break-in point or to let the other person finish. He has good memory and research skills. Apparently, he was able to direct his Mother home when she was lost by remembering visual queues (small, country lanes with hedges and telephone poles). Owing to his parents concerns, he was tested privately as there was no NHS avenue for them at the time, and diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome, now part of the Autistic Spectrum. So there are similarities with what you have described with your Son, and the Autistic Spectrum is very broad. It would be good to get a confirmed diagnosis, so that you can work from there.


Firstly, welcome to this forum. I am the parent of a young man with autism, who is now 25 years old, and two other sons.
I understand that you maybe looking for clarity over your child’s diagnosis, because I was in a similar situation 20 odd years ago.
What I have learnt over the years is that children can change enormously over time, and make progress when it seemed unlikely when they were young. I think people (including paediatricians) are reticent to say children have intellectual disabilities for two reasons. Firstly, things can change; children develop. Secondly, to the best of my knowledge intellectual disability isn’t a diagnosis but rather a wide label that covers a multitude of diagnoses.
I agree with the previous person here that a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder is useful, but the main thing about the diagnosis is that it helps you access help and the support your son needs.
Wishing you and your son good luck along the way.

Thank you for your replies. My son does have Expressive and Receptive Language delay which may possibly look to people as if he is slower to understand. He is under a Community Peadiatrician so hopefully he can come up with an explanation for his delayed development, if it isn’t Autism. I do see now that where a child is when they are younger or how they are seen by others, isn’t the end of the story or the full picture.

Your son’s diagnosis is less important than his preferences and motivation. Too often we worry about our children meeting milestones. If he is interested in something he will learn. If he feels like he is failing he will expect to fail and he will avoid that feeling. He needs you to be proud of him. When he learns that he can be proud he will expect success and learn to enjoy that feeling.