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Special Olympics Athlete Oath
The Definition of Intellectual Disability
Intellectual disability is a condition of arrested or incomplete development of the mind characterized by impairment of skills and overall intelligence in areas such as cognition, language, and motor and social abilities. Intellectual disability can occur with or without any other physical or mental disorders. Although reduced level of intellectual functioning is the characteristic feature of this disorder, the diagnosis is made only if it is associated with a diminished ability to adapt to the daily demands of the normal social environment. Persons whose functional limitations are based solely on a physical, behavioral or emotional disability, or a specific learning disability, or sensory disability, are not eligible to participate as Special Olympics athletes.
To be eligible to participate in Special Olympics, athletes must be at least 8 years old and identified by an agency or professional as having one of the following conditions: intellectual disabilities, cognitive delays as measured by formal assessment, or significant learning or vocational problems due to cognitive delay that require or have required specially designed instruction. There is no cost to participate in Special Olympics. As a global organization, Special Olympics has adopted “intellectual disabilities” as a widely accepted and less objectionable term for what is referred to in clinical settings as “mental retardation.” Although the movement has updated its terminology, Special Olympics continues to serve the same population and its mission remains unchanged. In the context of the Special Olympics movement, the term intellectual disabilities is synonymous with mental retardation; other terms—including cognitive delay, intellectual handicaps, learning disability, mental disabilities and mental handicaps—are used around the world.