Other considerations for intellectual disability

First aid

A student with an intellectual disability may have difficulty communicating that they are in pain or unwell. Communicate with the student’s family about possible indicators of pain, such as grimacing. 

Encourage gestures or other methods of communication to work out what may be happening.


A student with an intellectual disability may find understanding friendship difficult. Access our school story - what is bullying and what to do about it.


For more information about supporting students with disability when transitioning across education settings, access our transition page.

Post-school transition to adult life should begin as early as possible in school. 

Aim to increase independence by working on organisational, social and problem-solving skills, and time- and self- management skills. Provide plenty of opportunities to practise them across a range of contexts. 

It may be helpful to identify skill gaps and develop a support plan to help them be successful (for example, social skills, academic, and/or employment skills).


Consider student strengths and how to assist. Some students may find working on school work at home without help difficult. Work out what a student is able to do without help when assigning homework.

Alternatively, consider not giving homework to the class when possible to give the student some time away from books.

Planning and organisation

Some students with an intellectual disability may find being organised for class challenging. 

Consider providing support with planning and organisation.


The School Sport Unit provides inclusive sport and physical activity opportunities and pathways for students with disability across NSW. These focus on ability, participation, enjoyment and skill development. Opportunities include gala days, Multi-Sport days, knockouts and Come-and-Try Athletics days, and are available for students with disability who learn in mainstream classrooms, support classes in mainstream schools and Schools for Specific Purposes.

Inclusive school sport programs have the potential to support a student with disability’s social, emotional, mental and physical health. Watch Lexie and Anna’s stories of what sport and physical activity, both at school and in their journey through the representative school sport pathway, has meant to them. 


Safety drills

Some students with an intellectual disability may not know how to tell an adult if there is an emergency, or what to do in an emergency or emergency drill. 

Make time for demonstrating and practising what to do in a drill. Students may need multiple opportunities to learn and practise these skills. 

Some students may need support during the drill to assist them with safe navigation.


Some students may not complete their work, or they may engage in behaviours of concern that disrupts the class (for example, call out during class). Giving students choices in their work may make them more motivated and less likely to be distracted. Showing them positive behaviour and giving them clear instructions so that they know what is expected can also help. 

Picture cards or stories about social situations can teach students about positive behaviour. 

Many students can be taught how to self-monitor their behaviour. Consider asking them to record whether they have done what they are asked to do. 

Refer to the behaviour page for more information on how to reduce behaviours of concern by supporting the student and promoting more helpful behaviour, and our emotions page for more information about supporting a student with managing their emotions.

School excursions or camps

Some students with an intellectual disability may need extra help on camps. Discuss with parents or carers what help their student may need.

Other co-occuring conditions

Some students with an intellectual disability may also be diagnosed with autism, ADHD, anxiety, cerebral palsy, or oppositional defiant disorder.

Refer to understanding disability page or common needs page to help support the student..