What should I do if I think my child has an intellectual and developmental disability (IDD)?

Many IDDs have no cure, but there are often ways to treat their symptoms. For example:

  • Children with Down syndrome, Fragile X syndrome, Rett syndrome, and other IDDs can often benefit from therapeutic speech therapy, occupational therapy, and exercises to improve their gross- and fine-motor skills. They might also be helped by special education and attention at school and by the efforts of parents, educators, and healthcare practitioners to encourage social contact and communication. In addition, for children with Down syndrome, surgery can help correct heart defects that may be present.
  • A variety of treatment options are available to help with the symptoms of autism spectrum disorders. Options may include behavioral, occupational, physical, and speech-language therapy. In addition, educational specialists can help guide the child’s school experiences.
  • Treatment for hypothyroidism, or underactive thyroid, includes daily oral hormone treatment.
  • The most effective treatment for phenylketonuria (PKU) is a special diet that carefully limits intake of the amino acid phenylalanine. People with PKU who begin this diet at birth or shortly thereafter develop normally and usually have no symptoms of PKU. It is important that individuals with PKU stay on the special diet through adolescence and that women with PKU continue the diet before and during pregnancy to promote the best health outcomes.
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