Which Countries Are the Best for Supporting Intellectual Disabilities?

Which countries are best in terms of providing education for those with intellectual disabilities? We explore this question, here…

In today’s world, we hear a lot of chatter about supporting and including people with physical disabilities. This way, we can allow them to enjoy the same opportunities as those without these additional difficulties, but what about those with intellectual disabilities?

It has recently emerged that some countries and regions are less than inclusive when it comes to people with special educational needs. So, in this article, we’ll take a look at some of the countries which best support those with intellectual disabilities.

What is an Intellectual Disability?

An intellectual disability covers a number of conditions, and manifests as an inability or reduced ability to learn, understand, and process new and complicated information. This often means that those with one are either unable to learn new skills, or will need significantly more time and help in order to do so.

For people with intellectual disabilities, life can be extremely difficult, and many say that they often feel like an outcast within their society or community. A person with an intellectual disability will usually have an IQ of below 70, and will experience severe limitations in two or more skill areas.

Special educational needs can be met in schools across the globe in order to support these individuals and ensure they have the best opportunities in life. But, there are many countries still falling short. Here, we take a positive look at the countries who are leaps and bounds ahead of them:

6 Countries That Are Doing Well with Special Educational Needs

A Gallup poll recently revealed some of the most tolerant and supportive countries in the world for those with intellectual disabilities, and some of these are:

The Netherlands

A country in north west Europe, known for its flat landscape and welcoming people, the Netherlands is home to around 111,750 people with intellectual disabilities or learning difficulties. The country has a very proactive attitude toward supporting these people, including initiatives which seek to move them from institutions and into supported accommodation.

The United Kingdom

Approximately 985,000 people in the UK have some form of intellectual disability, many of whom require full time care and support. In the United Kingdom, there are a number of organisations, such as MenCap and Mind, that exist to offer support to those with intellectual disabilities. Sophie, the Countess of Wessex, is a patron of the Mencap and, in 2017, hosted a reception to celebrate the charity’s 70th birthday.


Linked to neighbouring Sweden by the Öresund bridge, Denmark is known for its connections to author Hans Christian Andersen, and for its commitment to supporting all of its residents, including those with intellectual disabilities. Denmark has always been at the forefront when it comes to promoting the ‘normalisation principle’, which states that those with intellectual disabilities or learning difficulties have equal rights when it comes to living, working and participating in their communities.


Best known for its glorious weather and friendly locals, Cyprus, an island in the east Mediterranean Sea, is a firm favourite with holidaymakers from around the globe. Cyprus also has a very positive reputation for supporting vulnerable members of its society. The island has a number of resources for those with intellectual disabilities, including The Pancyprian Organisation for Disabled Persons.


A country in North America, Canada is made up of ten provinces and three territories, and is known for its tolerance and natural beauty. Around 0.49 percent of adults in Canada have from an intellectual disability and, as well as a number of charitable support organisation’s available, the Canadian government offers benefits such as the Disability Tax Credit to those with intellectual disabilities, in order to promote greater tax equity.

New Zealand

New Zealand is an island country in the Southwestern Pacific Ocean and is governed by one of the world’s most popular leaders, Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern. Within its 268,021 square kilometres, 31,847 of New Zealand’s residents have an intellectual disability.

Forward thinking in many ways, New Zealand offers comprehensive support to those living with intellectual disabilities and their families. This includes membership organisation IHC New Zealand, which helps those affected to live rewarding lives within their communities.

Which Countries Aren’t So Good with SEN?

While the countries that we’ve mentioned provide great places to live for people with intellectual disabilities, others aren’t quite as welcoming. Nations like the Middle East, which tend to live under military threat, often fall short when it comes to offering support to those with intellectual disabilities. This means that care often falls on the person’s family and friends.

This can have a devastating effect as it will often mean that the person who takes on the role of carer will not be able to work full time and so may suffer a depleted quality of living.

Similarly, some third world countries fail to provide adequate support to those with intellectual disabilities. This is largely due to a lack of resources and a lack of education in terms of understanding conditions such as learning disabilities.

What’s the Future of Special Education Needs in 2022?

In 2022, every single member of every single society should be able to expect the support that they need in order to live safe and satisfying lives. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case, and many people with these extra needs may have to either rely on their families for their care, or move into an institution.

Thankfully, countries such as those highlighted in this article are committed to providing warm, welcome and ample support to those members of society who need it the most – making them happy and inclusive places to live for everyone.

Recent Posts