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Cognitive Disabilities and What You Need to Know
Cognitive disabilities cover a whole variety of conditions that are the cause of the decrease in cognitive and adaptive development — short term or permanently.
Some of the better-known examples of cognitive disabilities are autism, dementia, Alzheimer’s, down syndrome, traumatic brain injury, dyslexia, and attention deficit disorder.
Some conditions, such as dementia, can develop as you age. While others are born with it (down syndrome).
According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, it is estimated that the number of people with dementia in Australia is at 399,800, and the estimated number of people with autism is at 164,000.
With that being said, it is worth to know more about cognitive disabilities, since it is quite prevalent in Australia.
If you have a loved one, a friend, a colleague, or anyone you know who may have cognitive disabilities, then read on to learn more and better understand, empower, and encourage people with cognitive impairments.
I. How are Cognitive Disabilities Diagnosed?
People with cognitive disabilities are commonly under 65 years old and it is quite common for them to have other types of disabilities as well.
Whether born with intellectual impairments or having developed them later in life, people with cognitive disabilities are diagnosed in three main ways:
- Intellectual Functioning – Proper assessment of how a person is able to learn is important in the process of diagnosis. Finding out how they think, the level of problem-solving skills, and how they make sense of the world around them all go into the process of assessing a person’s intellectual functioning.
- Adaptive Behaviour – This includes looking into daily living skills such as the ability to communicate and their social and interaction skills. For children, this type of diagnosis is measured against similar ages to see how they would compare.
- Medical Tests – As cognitive impairments can be caused by physical health problems (tumors, strokes, etc.), MRI or CT scans are used for diagnosis. Blood tests are also conducted to detect Alzheimer’s disease.
II. Impacts of Cognitive Disabilities
It is important to be aware of the impact of having cognitive disabilities to better understand your loved ones who may have them. Being aware means they can be managed in a more efficient and understanding way.
By doing this, we’re actually taking a step forward in terms of better protecting and guiding them. We have to bear in mind that for people with cognitive disabilities, remembering and processing information can be difficult.
In an emergency situation, they may not react or understand what is happening around them. Which is why we need to guide them if ever something similar happens.
As impacts vary from person to person, understanding and identifying the strengths and weaknesses of each individual allows workarounds that minimise the impact of having a cognitive impairment on their lives.
Just being able to know these things can actually help improve their quality of life.
III. How to Help those with Cognitive Disabilities
Living with cognitive disabilities can be difficult, which is why people who have them will require every bit of help they can get.
If the condition is more severe, a personal caregiver might be necessary to ensure and maintain wellbeing. Never hesitate to seek professional help, especially if it’s the best option.
However, if it’s something milder, professional help may not be required. If you’re looking after a family member, you can be of help by ensuring they get the support they need by creating a support network that can provide and stimulate positivity and empowerment. These could be other members of the family and friends who would most likely share the same compassion.
You can also watch over the little things like if he/she gets enough sleep, eats the right food, has ways to relax/activities for recreation, and much more!
If you’re really passionate about helping people with cognitive disabilities and is keen to make a difference in their lives, then you might want to consider taking disability courses and become qualified as a disability support worker.
Turn your passion into a fulfilling career — click here and head over our disability course pages to learn more.
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