Mental Retardation, also known as Intellectual Disability (ID) is a developmental disability that first appears in children under 18 years old. It is characterized by below-average intelligence or mental ability and lack of skills necessary in daily living.
Mentally retarded people can still do and learn new skills but they learn more in a slow approach. They have limitations in these two areas:
- Intellectual Functioning - it is otherwise known as Intelligence Quotient (IQ), refers to ones ability to learn, reason, and make decisions. It is measured by an IQ Test. Normal people have an average IQ score of 100, with the majority of them scoring between 85 and 115. Meanwhile, an intellectually disabled person has an IQ score of less than 70 to 75.
- Adaptive Behaviors - these skills are necessary in day-to-day life, such as effective communication and interaction with other people, work skills, and personal hygiene.
What are the signs of intellectual disability in children?
There are many signs of intellectual disability in children that manifest during infancy, but some are more noticeable when a child reaches his school age. Signs include:
- Crawling, sitting up, or walking late
- Having trouble with talking
- Difficulty remembering things
- Slow to master things, especially personal hygiene skills
Children with severe intellectual disability can have other signs like seizures, mood disorders (anxiety, autism, etc), vision problems, or hearing problems.
What are the causes of intellectual disability?
According to Web MD, the most common causes of intellectual disability are:
- Genetic conditions
- Infections (present at birth or occurring after birth)
- Problems during childbirth
- Unknown cause
What are the examinations or tests to assess my child?
Medicine Plus recommends the following tests to assess your childs intellectual ability:
- Abnormal Denver Developmental Screening Test
- Adaptive Behavior Test (if the score is below average)
- Development way below that of peers
- Intelligence Quotient (IQ) Test (if the score is below 70 on a standardized IQ test)
How is intellectual disability diagnosed?
Diagnosis of Intellectual Disability or Mental Retardation starts with the interview on the child`s parents, observation of the child`s behavior, and the results of his Intelligence Quotient (IQ) Test and Adaptive Behaviors. Web MD states that a child can only be considered intellectually disabled if he has deficits in both IQ and adaptive behaviors. If only one has a deficiency, a child cannot be called "mentally retarded."
After the said diagnosis, healthcare professionals will determine the strengths and weaknesses of your child to know the kind of support he needs.
What are the treatments?
Therapies, as suggested by Gulf Bend Center for intellectually disabled people vary depending on the case of their disability. These can improve their adaptive behavioral skills:
- Occupational therapy (self-care, leisure activities, domestic activities)
- Speech therapy (communication skills, speech articulation, vocabulary, receptive and expressive language skills)
- Physical therapy (maximizing mobility and self-locomotion, adaptive solutions to mobility problems, sensory integration)
For better diagnosis of your child`s condition, visit your nearest health care facility.