Classification, prevalence, prevention and rehabilitation of intellectual disability: an overview of research in the People's Republic of China

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The People's Republic of China is a developing country with all the problems and challenges that face such countries all over the world. Progress has been hampered by scarcity of resources, and a lack of relevant information and appropriate skills, as well as by the stigma traditionally attached to people with intellectual disability. The present rapid economic development has made possible further improvement and expansion of educational opportunities, and health and rehabilitation services. According to a recent census and sample surveys conducted in the People's Republic of China, the overall prevalence rate of people with disabilities was estimated to 4.9%. Thus, China has more individuals with disabilities than any other country in the world. According to these figures, the prevalence of intellectual disability in the population is ≈1%. For children younger than 14 years of age, the prevalence is around 2%, which accounts for 66% of all handicapped children, making it the most frequent childhood disability. Today, the existing medical facilities, and educational and social welfare organizations cannot meet the tremendous need of care and services. The problems of the large number of disabled children and adults are a major challenge for contemporary Chinese society. This paper is devoted to research pertinent to intellectual disability in China. With a few exceptions, only publications in the English language were included in this review, which makes the overview selective rather than comprehensive. Publications on classification systems and diagnostic criteria, screening methods and assessment instruments, prevalence rates, aetiology and risk factors, prevention and intervention efforts, special education, and families with children with intellectual disability are presented.

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