Cognitive Impariments

So what is a cognitive impairment?

Someone who has a cognitive impairment may have trouble with processing information, learning new skills, keeping focused or memory.

The majority of people with a cognitive impairment are classified as having a mild impairment. Where it does impact their day to day lives but they are largely independent in regards to education, employment, accommodation and long term relationships.

In some cases it is severe or the person has multiple disabilities and they require more assistance such as going to a special school or having live in help.

How does someone develop a cognitive impairment?

A cognitive impairment can be present from birth, such as an intellectual disability or developmental disorder. These can be due to genetic factors, such as Downs Syndrome, or environmental factors during the pregnancy.

Alternatively they can become acquired, such as through an accident or stroke. Otherwise they can be as a result of a degenerative condition that generally occur in the later stages of life.

What are the types of cognitive impairments?

One of the main types of cognitive impairment is having an intellectual disability (ID). Someone who has a IQ score of less than 70 is said to be intellectually disabled and will often be diagnosed before the age of 18. Some people may acquire an intellectual disability later on in life either from a brain injury or other conditions such as dementia.

Another type is a developmental disorder. These conditions start from birth though may ease as they become older and a person with a developmental disorder may also have an intellectual disability. These include autism, ADD, ADHD, dyslexia, learning impairments and more.

What are the prevalence of cognitive impairments?

In Australia it is estimated that approximately 3% of the population have a cognitive or developmental impairment. It varies largely over age and by gender. Some people may have more than one condition, intellectual disability for example is often diagnosed with other conditions such as autism, acquired brain injury or dementia.

prevalence of intellectual disabilities

Prevalence of Cognitive Impairments in Australia
Type Prevalence
ID IQ < 70 2-3%
Developmental 4%
Dyslexia 10%
Acquired brain injury 2%
Dementia 1-2%

How does this impact computer use?

It may take someone who has a cognitive impairment longer to complete tasks on a computer, such as filling in forms or following instructions. It may also be difficult to process large chunks of text or longer words without breaks or a glossary. As well as being able to distinguish what is the important information on the site as opposed to advertisements or other content areas.

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