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Reflections on Cognitive Disabilities

Cognitive disabilities can happen to anyone – but they are not a normal part of the human developmental experience.

The concept of cognitive disabilities is extremely broad, and not always well-defined. In loose terms, a person with a cognitive disability has greater difficulty with one or more type of mental tasks than the average person. Most cognitive disabilities have some sort of basis in the biology or physiology of the individual.

Common type of cognitive disabilities include: intellectual disabilities, language and learning difficulties, head injury, stroke, Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.

The connection between a person’s biology and mental processes is most obvious in the case of traumatic brain injury and genetic disorders, but even the more subtle cognitive disabilities often have a basis in the structure of chemistry of the brain.

Typical symptoms include: Confusion; memory loss; language difficulties; disorientation; difficulty completing tasks; challenging behaviors, including mood swings, hallucinations, poor personal care; and agitation to name a few.

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