Understanding Mental Retardation

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Mental retardation is defined by sub-average intellectual ability. General intelligence quotient (IQ) scores for mentally retarded individuals are, by definition, seventy (70) or below. Mental retardation is a term used when a person has certain limitations in mental functioning and in skills such as communicating, taking care of him or herself, and social skills. These limitations will cause a child to learn and develop more slowly than a typical child. Mental retardation is defined as a non progressive disorder evident during childhood, with disabilities in adapting to the environment, and a score on an IQ test below 70. The average score on an IQ test is 100, with scores of 85-115 being seen as the average range.

Mental retardation is classified as mild, moderate or severe. Symptoms of mild mental retardation may not be obvious in early childhood and once these individuals reach adulthood, they may learn to live independently. Mental retardation is one problem that can be caused by genes. Children have a combination of genes from both their parents, so sometimes they receive genes that are abnormal or the genes change while the baby is developing. Mental retardation is also termed as mental deficiency, mental sub-normality, and intellectual deficiency. Terms that are also used include idiot, imbecile and moron.

Children with intellectual disability can and do learn new skills, but they develop more slowly than children with average intelligence and adaptive skills. There are different degrees of Intellectual disability, ranging from mild to profound. Children with moderate mental retardation may be able to learn some basic reading and writing. They are able to learn functional skills, such as safety and self-help. Children who are having difficulty attaining the developmental milestones, who have a diagnosed condition known to impact development, or whose development is considered atypical, qualify for services.

Mental retardation is a frequent cause of intellectual and physical impairment. Several genes associated with mental retardation have been mapped to the X chromosome, among them, there is FMR1 . Mental retardation is also not a type of mental illness, like depression. There is no cure for mental retardation.


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