Indian RPWD-2016 removes the term "Mental retardation", and introduces the term Intellectual disability.

However, this act classifies the term intellectual disability into

  1. Specific learning disability (Dyslexia, Dysgraphia etc).

  2. Autism spectrum disorder.

Now this is, extremely confusing because not all intellectually disabled are autistics, nor all autistics are intellectually disabled. Although the 2 conditions have blurred boundary; they are not the same thing (Audre Thurm et al, Pedersen et al. ).

  • Intellectual disability is characterised by lack of intellectual capabilities especially low IQ.

  • Autism and its spectrum is mostly an impairment of social understanding and having restricted interests. Many autistics are highly intelligent, but have trouble social interaction and day to day executive function.

Not all autistics are intellectually disabled.

Not all intellectually disabled are autistic (not Specific learning disorder too).

So my question is in which form or terminology the Indian government is certifying and categorising these 2 categories?

I have crawled the web but didn't found answer.


The Act contains in the schedule the definitions it uses:

  1. Intellectual disability, a condition characterised by significant limitation both in intellectual functioning (rasoning, learning, problem solving) and in adaptive behaviour which covers a range of every day, social and practical skills, including—

(a) “specific learning disabilities” means a heterogeneous group of conditions wherein there is a deficit in processing language, spoken or written, that may manifest itself as a difficulty to comprehend, speak, read, write, spell, or to do mathematical calculations and includes such conditions as perceptual disabilities, dyslexia, dysgraphia, dyscalculia, dyspraxia and developmental aphasia;

(b) “autism spectrum disorder” means a neuro-developmental condition typically appearing in the first three years of life that significantly affects a person's ability to communicate, understand relationships and relate to others, and is frequently associated with unusal or stereotypical rituals or behaviours.

You cannot apply academic or every-day understanding to legal classifications if the law provides otherwise, even if the definition or term used seems unclear or contradictory.

Additionally, the specified schedule is used for the particular purpose of classifying and evaluating specified disabilities. It means that people with the specified conditions can be evaluated for their disabilities.

You can find the guidelines here. The guideline for evaluation of autism explicitly mentions that it "may or may not be accompanied by intellectual impairment".

  • 1
    In particular, note the word "including". It allows "intellectual disabilities" that are not covered by "specific learning disabilities" or "autism spectrum disorder". So it's not accurate to say that Indian law "classifies" intellectual disabilities into just these two categories. Jun 13 '21 at 16:47
  • @NateEldredge Make it an answer Jun 14 '21 at 4:22

It seems currently there isnt practically a scope to include a third category of general intellectual disability.

According to this form;


there are no place to include such patients; or maybe they are being mixed up with ASD or SLD.

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