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Myths and facts of Mental Retardation

Dr Gowher Yusuf

Dr Gowher Yusuf

  Hal 3rd stage, Bengaluru     Feb 9, 2017

   3 min     


Mental retardation definition is characterized by below-average intelligence or mental ability and a lack of skills necessary for day-to-day living. The condition of having an IQ measured as below 70 to 75 and significant delays or lacks in at least two areas of adaptive skills. Mental retardation is present from childhood. Between 2 and 3 percent of the general population meet the criteria for mental retardation. Types of mental retardation include four levels: mild, moderate, severe, and profound.

Some myths and facts-

Myths: Mental retardation is a disease.

Facts: Mental retardation is a condition, not a disease.

Myths: If normal children are allowed to play with mentally retarded children, they will become mentally retarded.

Facts: Interaction between normal and mentally retarded children will be advantageous for both because mentally retarded children will improve their social skills and other children will understand them better.

Myths: Mental retardation is the result of karma, fate, black magic or evil eye and solar eclipse during pregnancy or during the time of birth.

Facts: Mental retardation is due to various causes, but not due to these.

Myths: The child will be normal again.

Facts: The child’s condition cannot be reversed completely.

Myths: A child with mental retardation can never learn anything and should lead a custodial life.

Facts: The child can be trained in a lot of skills. The teaching must be functionally based, in small simple steps, using child-specific learning tools and matched to the child’s needs and strengths.

Here are the characteristics of mental retardation types:

Mild: Some of the following symptoms of mild mental retardation types include:

  • Taking longer to learn to talk, but communicating well once they know-how

  • Being fully independent in self-care when they get older

  • Having problems with reading and writing

  • Social immaturity

  • Benefiting from specialized education plans

Moderate: If your child has a moderate ID, they may exhibit some of the following symptoms:

  • Are slow in understanding and using language

  • May have some difficulties with communication

  • Can learn basic reading, writing, and counting skills

  • Are generally unable to live alone

  • Can take part in various types of social activities

Severe: Symptoms of severe ID include:

  • Noticeable motor impairment

  • Severe damage to, or abnormal development of, their central nervous system

Profound: Symptoms of profound ID include

  • Inability to understand or comply with requests or instructions

  • Possible immobility

  • Incontinence

  • Very basic nonverbal communication

Causes of mental retardation include 

Mental retardation symptoms

Some of the most common signs of mental retardation are: 

  • Rolling over, sitting up, crawling, or walking late

  • Talking late or having trouble with talking

  • Slow to master things like potty training, dressing, and feeding himself or herself

  • Memory problems

  • Inability to connect actions with consequences

  • Behavior problems such as explosive tantrums

  • Difficulty with problem-solving or logical thinking

  • Lack of curiosity

  • Childish behavior inconsistent with the child’s age

Mental retardation treatment

The main goal of treatment is to help your child reach their full potential in terms of education, social skills, and life skills. Treatment may include behavior therapy, occupational therapy, counseling, and in some cases, medication.

Treatment of mental retardation depends on the underlying cause. In some cases, such as phenylketonuria and congenital hypothyroidism, special diets or medical treatments can help. In all cases, special education starting as early in infancy as possible can help people with mental retardation maximize their abilities.

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