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Intellectual or Developmental Disabilities

Intellectual Developmental Disabilities

People with intellectual or developmental disabilities may have difficulty doing many things most of us take for granted. These disabilities can mildly or profoundly limit the person’s ability to learn, communicate, socialize and take care of their everyday needs. You may not know that someone has this type of disability unless you are told. As much as possible, treat the customers with intellectual or developmental disabilities like anyone else. They may understand more than you think, and they will appreciate that you treat them with respect.

Types of assistance used: communication board, speech generating device, service animal, support person.


  • Use plain language and speak in short sentences.
  • To confirm if the person understands what you have said, consider asking the person to repeat the message back to you in his or her own words.
  • If you cannot understand what is being said, simply ask again.
  • Provide one piece of information at a time.
  • Be supportive and patient.
  • Speak directly to the person, not to his or her companion or support person.