The causes of intellectual disability—or intellectual development disorder—are varied: chromosomal abnormalities, genetic diseases, neurological problems, life accidents… Whatever the cause, the persons concerned are a permanent carrier of an intellectual disability. They may then need appropriate support and guidance to develop their autonomy, social interactions and individual capacities.
The Center for intellectual development (CDI) provides care for children and young people with intellectual development disorders.
These disorders are characterized by:
- a deficit of intellectual functions, which may manifest itself in language, reading, numbers, understanding of rules, autonomy of personal care…
- a lack of adaptive functions in activities of daily living (communication, social participation, independence etc.).
The diagnosis of intellectual disability is based on both clinical assessment and standardized tests.
The CDI’s specialized psycho-pedagogical approach is based on individualized care for the children and young people concerned, i.e. the establishment of specialized diagnoses, education, teaching, qualification and, where appropriate, re-education and monitoring.
With reference to the basic education curriculum and the general secondary education programs, an individualized program is offered to each pupil, taking into account his or her interests, skills and specific needs.
The didactics and methods used differ from those used in mainstream education: for students with intellectual development disabilities, it is important to anchor learning processes in concrete contexts in relation to their experiences.
The CDI’s teaching unit offers various educational opportunities. Depending on their needs, students from 3 to 16 years old can follow:
- their schooling in primary/secondary school with specialized outpatient interventions
- mixed schooling, i.e. schooling in a class of the primary/secondary school and in a class of the CDI
- their schooling in a CDI class (with continued enrollment in the primary/secondary school of origin).
At the end of compulsory schooling, young people can receive training and an introduction to the practical life of the professional and/or occupational cycle of the CDI.
The tasks of the diagnostic, advisory and monitoring unit are to:
- advise and monitor children, youth and families upon request;
- develop a specialized diagnosis and advise on the schooling and guidance of the indicated children and young people;
- support and take care of children, young people and families in difficult school or family situations;
- establish the CDI’s transition assessments for children and young people;
- advise the CDI staff (peer-to-peer supervision) and accompany the teams on request;
- coordinate regional collaborations (network of different competence centers, teaching, education and reception services etc.);
- offer coaching to school and high-school professionals.
The members of the rehabilitation and therapy unit are committed to:
- raising preventive awareness among formal and non-formal education agents of the needs of children and young people with intellectual disabilities;
- identifying, at the time of diagnosis, the needs of children and young people and setting priorities for intervention in collaboration with the people involved;
- developing a treatment plan each year in close collaboration with the persons concerned and evaluating the development of the child or young person;
- taking care of and rehabilitate reported children and young people and adapting rehabilitation techniques to individual needs;
- advising teachers as well as psychosocial and educational staff when caring for children and young people in difficulty;
- participating in national or European commissions, projects or programs, in the development of specific material, in the supervision and training of trainees.
The CDI is deployed in the country with seven annexes:
Each annex, managed by an administrative director, may consist of one or more specialized schools, cohabitation classes in ordinary schools and regional offices for diagnosis, counseling, monitoring and therapy.
The Center for intellectual development’s missions are carried out by a multidisciplinary team composed of specialized educators, teachers, graduated educators, educators, nurses, speech therapists, psychomotor therapists, occupational therapists, pedagogues, psychologists, social workers etc.
Administrative and technical teams ensure the operation. Consultation meetings between the various professionals ensure effective care for children and young people with special educational needs. Doctors specialized in child psychiatry and functional rehabilitation regularly collaborate with the CDI.