Intellectual Disabilities

Workbridge is the largest New Zealand-owned employment service for people with a disability or health condition.

What are intellectual disabilities?

Intellectual disabilities affect people’s intellectual capacity and their capacity to learn new or complex information. They become apparent in childhood and affect development.

The cause of many intellectual disabilities is not known and in many cases there are no visible signs of the impairment. The most commonly recognised form of intellectual disability is Downs Syndrome.

1% or almost 29,000 New Zealanders have an intellectual disability. Health Indicators for New Zealanders with Intellectual Disability.

Intellectual disabilities are different from learning difficulties or disabilities, such as dyslexia, which affect the way in which people learn rather than their capacity to learn. Intellectual disabilities are also not a form of mental health problem such as depression or schizophrenia, which can present at any time and affect perception rather than intellectual capacity.


How do intellectual disabilities affect people in employment?

Many people with intellectual impairments want to work and make loyal, reliable and enthusiastic employees. Intellectual impairment affects every individual differently – do not make assumptions about what a person can do but rather work with them to identify their strengths.

Some people with intellectual impairments, but by no means all, may take longer to learn new tasks, need longer to complete a task and require more supervision.


Useful links

IHC/IDEA Services is a membership organisation which provides services, information and advocacy for people with intellectual disabilities.