Designed and created by Guideline Central in participation with the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
Assessment and Treatment of Psychiatric Disorders in Children and Adolescents With Intellectual Disability (Intellectual Developmental Disorder)
Patient Guideline Summary
Publication Date: April 1, 2020
Last Updated: November 21, 2023
This patient summary means to discuss key recommendations from the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP) for Psychiatric Disorders in Children and Adolescents With Intellectual Disability.
- Intellectual disability describes abnormal brain function in the areas of language, motor skills, problem-solving ability, attention span, reasoning, memory, and others.
- There are several categories of causes of intellectual disability in children.
- autism spectrum disorder
- prenatal alcohol exposure
- Symptoms are mostly behavioral and include inattention, lethargy, social withdrawal, hyperactivity, irritability, aggression, and asocial behavior.
- Because symptoms are not specific for a diagnosis, an array of tests is required. These tests address co-occurring conditions – medical, psychiatric, environmental, and genetic – and are given to parents, teachers, and others who observe and care for the patient.
- Your child is also evaluated for delayed growth and development and co-occurring psychiatric disorders
- Genetic testing is often included to detect those conditions that can cause intellectual disability:
- Down syndrome
- Fragile X syndrome
- Rett syndrome
- Prader-Willi syndrome
- Angelman syndrome
- Williams syndrome
- Deletion 22q11.2
- Smith-Magenis syndrome
- Lesch-Nyhan syndrome
- Others that are periodically discovered
- Psychosocial interventions (dealing with the child’s physical and human environment – home, school, community)
- Psychotropic medications (primarily help control behavioral symptoms, allowing the child freedom to improve intellectual function)
- Melatonin (improves sleep efficiency)
- Specialized treatment providers for treatment-refractory (not responding to treatment) patients.
- AACAP: American Academy Of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry
Siegel M, McGuire K, Veenstra-VanderWeele J, Stratigos K, King B; American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP) Committee on Quality Issues (CQI); Bellonci C, Hayek M, Keable H, Rockhill C, Bukstein OG, Walter HJ. Practice Parameter for the Assessment and Treatment of Psychiatric Disorders in Children and Adolescents With Intellectual Disability (Intellectual Developmental Disorder). J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 2020 Apr;59(4):468-496. doi: 10.1016/j.jaac.2019.11.018. Epub 2019 Nov 29. PMID: 33928910.
The information in this patient summary should not be used as a substitute for professional medical care or advice. Contact a health care provider if you have questions about your health.