Adaptive Behavior in Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities #AtoZChallenge

Hi everyone and welcome to day one in the #AtoZChallenge. This year, I chose intellectual and developmental disabilities as my theme. One of the defining characteristics of intellectual disability, and also a common trait of other developmental disabilities, is impaired adaptive behavior. For my letter A post, I want to talk about that.

So what is adaptive behavior? Adaptive behavior refers to the skills we learn in life in order to adapt to the expectations of the world around us. It includes the following:


  • Conceptual skills, such as literacy, self-directedness and the ability to comprehend money, numbers and time.

  • Social skills, such as interpersonal skills, self-esteem, skills necessary to obey rules and the law and avoid being victimized.

  • Practical skills, such as personal care, travel, money management, housekeeping, etc.


Adaptive behavior is sometimes also called adaptive functioning. The skills that it includes are often referred to as “life skills”. Adaptive behavior is important, because it allows an individual to adjust to the changing demands of life. It is related to intelligence, but it’s not the same.

In order to be diagnosed with an intellectual disability, in addition to a significantly below-average IQ (which I will talk about in my letter I post), a person must be significantly impaired in their adaptive functioning. However, impairments in adaptive behavior are not exclusive to individuals with an intellectual disability. People with other neurodevelopmental disabilities, such as autism, often show impairments in this area too. I, for one, do.

17 thoughts on “Adaptive Behavior in Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities #AtoZChallenge

    1. Well, yes, kind of, in that tying shoelaces is a very specific life skill and it’s doubtful that Einstein had any sort of developmental disability. Adaptive behavior refers more to the whole of life skills rather than a specific skill, although people can struggle in one area more than another. For example, I (autistic with above-average IQ) struggle more with social skills and practical skills than with concepts of time or literacy.

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    1. You mean the #AtoZChallenge in general or my theme? If you mean the challenge in general, it’s an annual event in April in which bloggers publish a post each day of the week except (most) Sundays (this year, April 30 will be the one Sunday we’ll post as there are five Sundays in the month), with a topic relating to each letter of the alphabet. You can learn more at http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com/.

      Liked by 1 person

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