Mental Retardation

There are varying degrees of intellectual disability, formerly known as mental retardation, ranging from mild to extreme. An example of mild might be that children take longer to speak and understand, but they can communicate. They can often also take care of themselves. An example of extreme would be children might often have motor difficulties, as well as problems communicating, learning and taking care of themselves.  

Difficulty Adapting

Intelligence tests determine who is to be labeled as having mental retardation, and if a child has difficulty adapting to normal independent living. Fortunately, only about one percent of the U.S. population meet both criteria. Males outnumber females by 50 percent (American Psychiatric Association (APA), 1994). Most individuals with mental retardation are able, with support, to live in mainstream society. The vast majority learn academic skills up to the sixth grade level. Today, children with mild retardation are educated in less restrictive, special education environments.

Testing for Program Eligibility

Standardized testing has become increasingly more important in order to be classified in such ways as to be eligible for special education programs, social security disability payments and, if involved in the Criminal Justice System, protection from execution.

Known Physical Causes

Sometimes, mental retardation has a known physical cause. Down Syndrome, for example, is a disorder of varying severity caused by an extra chromosome 21 in the person’s individual genetic makeup. In the past, children were institutionalized, separated from their parents, but today, with the help of a supportive family environment and special education, many people with Down Syndrome learn to care for themselves and enjoy working for a living.

This report is not a diagnosis. We hope this information can guide you toward improving your life.

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