Brain Injury As It Relates to Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities #AtoZChallenge

Hi everyone. We’ve arrived at my letter B post in the #AtoZChallenge. I struggled with what topic to choose for this letter, but eventually settled on brain injury. As you will find out, this type of disability has a kind of controversial relationship to intellectual and developmental disabilities. After all, many people view an intellectual or developmental disability as necessarily present from birth. The American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (AAIDD), however, considers an intellectual disability as having originated before the age of 22. In the Netherlands, the age of onset cut-of for an intellectual disability care profile in the Long-Term Care Act is 18. As such, people who acquired a brain injury in childhood affecting their ability to learn, are diagnosable as having an intellectual disability.

With respect to other developmental disabilities, such as autism, the diagnostic waters get even muddier. I, for one, was diagnosed as autistic at age 20 despite having suffered a brain bleed as an infant. Then, ten years later, the diagnosis was removed again because apparently a brain injury no matter how early on precludes an autism diagnosis. However, I could not be diagnosed with acquired brain injury-related neuropsychological or behavioral difficulties either, because these would have required a clear before/after difference. Besides, I am blind too, so most neuropsychological testing isn’t possible on me. As a result of this, I ended up with just a regular personality disorder diagnosis. Now I’m not 100% sure I don’t have a personality disorder, but it’s certainly not all there is to me diagnostically.

In the Dutch care system, people with acquired/traumatic brain injury usually fall under physical disability service providers, unless they have really severe challenging behavior. In that case, they usually either end up in an intellectual disability facility or a psychiatric hospital. There are a few specialist mental health units for people with brain injury, but these are treatment-based, not living facilities. There are also nursing home units for people with brain injury, but these cater towards people over 65.

4 thoughts on “Brain Injury As It Relates to Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities #AtoZChallenge

    1. It is quite broken indeed. The long-term care system has care profiles based on one’s primary disability and, as a result, it does not take into account the fact that people might have multiple, equally impairing disabilities.

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