What is borderline intellectual functioning? Learn about the symptoms and causes of borderline intellectual functioning? Borderline intellectual functioning or borderline mental deficiency is a condition concerning an individual’s intellectual abilities. When individuals’ cognitive ability is below average, they are classified as borderline intellectuals. In borderline intellectual functioning, a person’s IQ is 70-85. This is unlike in intellectual disability, where a person has an IQ below 70.
Borderline Intellectual Functioning and Learning Disabilities
Most children with borderline intellectual functioning find it difficult to cope with studies at school. Most of them are “slow learners”. The majority of them even fail to pass out from high school. As a result, their social status remains low.
Borderline intellectual functioning children suffer from learning disabilities. These disabilities are, however, not limited to any specific domain, such as reading or writing. They also have a problem with attention and fine motor abilities.
Borderline intellectual functioning can affect a child’s learning capability. Therefore, those students must be given supplementary aids in the classroom.
BIF Definition: What is Borderline Intellectual Functioning?
The borderline intellectual functioning definition refers to the level of intellectual cognition in people. It is unlike any psychiatric/psychological disorder. The problem with people having BIF is that their intellectual disability does not get diagnosed but their intelligence quotient or IQ is low.
BIF people experience a lot of physical and psychiatric problems. Borderline intellectual functioning after high school makes it difficult to achieve success in life, leading to potential poverty. They find it difficult to exercise independent judgment, and as a result, struggle in workplaces. They face many challenges and receive few job opportunities. Consequently, they suffer from anxiety, depression, and low self-esteem.
Recent studies have made changes to the definition of BIF. Borderline intellectual functioning DSM 5 code says that the IQ bracket of 70-85 has been removed as an intellect marker.
Causes of Borderline Intellectual Functioning
If anything occurs that interrupts a person’s normal brain development it might lead to borderline intellectual functioning. Borderline intellectual functioning can be caused at any time before you attain the age of eighteen because of injury, any disease, or abnormality of the brain. It may be caused by genetic liability, biological factors, socioeconomic status, and maternal stress.
- Genetic: In many cases, borderline intellectual functioning might be caused by an abnormality in genes or from errors arising out of gene combination.
- Physical: Certain diseases such as measles, meningitis, or whooping cough might lead to borderline intellectual functioning. Malnutrition might also lead to borderline intellectual functioning.
- Environmental: Problems in the fetal brain during pregnancy might lead to borderline intellectual functioning. Prematurity and oxygen deprivation during childhood and traumatic brain injury might cause BIF.
Symptoms of Borderline Intellectual Functioning
The borderline intellectual functioning symptoms or signs are as follows:
- Intellectual functioning related to abstract thinking, problem-solving, learning from experience, reasoning, planning, and curricular activities will be below average.
- A child or adult with borderline intellectual functioning will face difficulties in adjusting to new developments or coping with new skills.
- They will also face difficulties in living an independent life. They will need help in carrying out daily activities and also in participating in social activities like interacting with others.
- People with borderline intellectual functioning face difficulty in managing their feelings and anger. They suffer from mood swings and can get irritated easily.
- Their ability to reason is very poor.
- They are generally disorganized with poor concentration and response time.
- Borderline intellectual functioning symptoms in adults are they cannot do multitasking and cannot follow complex instructions.
How to Diagnose and Test for Borderline Intellectual Functioning
Borderline intellectual functioning is diagnosed through problems in the intellectual and adaptive functioning of people. It is assessed through an exam by a doctor and also through standardized testing.
A full-scale IQ testing is no longer required for diagnosing borderline intellectual functioning. An IQ score of 70-75 indicates borderline intellectual functioning but the score has to be interpreted in context with the person’s general mental abilities. In most cases, the scores differ. As a result, a full-scale IQ score may not give perfect results.
Adaptive functioning is tested through standardized measures with three areas under consideration:
- Conceptual: Reading, writing, language, memory, reasoning, and math.
- Social: Social judgment, communication skills, empathy, the capacity to follow rules, and the ability to keep friendships.
- Practical: The ability to be independent, the capability to take job responsibilities, managing money, and work tasks.
Strategies for Coping with Borderline Intellectual Functioning
Borderline intellectual functioning is a lifelong condition but timely intervention can improve functioning and help a person to thrive. Once you are diagnosed with borderline intellectual functioning, the person’s strengths and weaknesses will be evaluated. With timely support, people with intellectual disabilities can be fully included in the community.
The strategies adopted to help people with borderline intellectual functioning are:
- Early intervention in toddlers and infants.
- Special education will help them cope in school and high school.
- Family support is important for social acceptance.
- Transition services
- Day programs
- Case management
- Vocational programs
- Housing options
Special education and related services should be free for every eligible child with borderline intellectual functioning. Moreover, people with borderline intellectual functioning should get support from friends, family, community members, and co-workers. Employers can provide job coaching. With proper support and strategies, people with borderline intellectual functioning can become successful with productive societal roles.
BIF Treatment: Therapy for Borderline Intellectual Functioning
Various therapies can improve borderline intellectual functioning. Some of them have been discussed below:
- Occupational therapy: Occupational therapy involves self-care, domestic activities, leisure activities, and employment skills.
- Speech therapy: Speech therapy improves a person’s communication skills, speech articulation, vocabulary, and expression skills.
- Physical therapy: Physical therapy improves mobility and quality of life. It also improves sensory integration.
- Orthomolecular therapy: People with borderline intellectual functioning might suffer from malnutrition. Orthomolecular therapy involves giving vitamins and mineral supplements to improve intellect.
- Medication: The use of nootropic medicines (that enhance brain performance) is prescribed to develop a person’s learning activities.
Living with Borderline Intellectual Functioning
In borderline intellectual functioning, the cognitive abilities of individuals are affected. There is a need to create awareness of the condition. Such individuals can be integrated into society through the provision of proper medical attention and support strategies.