Impression of Mental Retardation

Mental retardation (now referred to as Intellectual Disability) is one kind of a developmental disability. A person with a developmental disability is one who, from childhood, matures at a below average rate. As a consequence, the person experiences unusual difficulty in learning and is relatively ineffective in applying whatever he/she has learned to the problems of ordinary living.

More than 7.5 million Americans have mental retardation. More than 100,000 newborn babies are added to this number annually. Three out of every one hundred children born in America have, or will develop, a developmental disability.  There is no documented number for children of West Africa.

Mental retardation may be regarded as a set of symptoms associated with a condition, disorder or developmental history. It is not contagious because it is not a disease.

Testing methods have various cutoff points for the diagnosis of mental retardation. These can range from an IQ of 70 to an IQ of 80. However, IQ is not the only criteria for diagnosis. A person with mental retardation also exhibits impaired adaptive behavior.

Of the total population with mental retardation, the majority are mildly affected (approximately 87%). Ten percent have moderate retardation and three percent have severe or profound retardation. Persons with mild or moderate mental retardation are capable of learning to read and use a computer, if they have been taught how to do so.

Some may use special technology – voice-activated software or enhance keyboards, for instance. Other requires assistance from a teacher or caregiver in using computers.

Studies indicate there are more males with mental retardation than females. 60% of the population with mental retardation is male and 40% is female.

People with mental retardation can be hardworking, reliable employees. Supported employment strategies allow people with mental retardation access to new job opportunities for competitive employment.

There is a clearly established relationship between poverty and mental retardation. Malnutrition, lead poisoning and lack of prenatal care are a few factors that may contribute to the disproportionate occurrence of mental retardation among America’s poor and those in third world countries.

More than 200 causes of mental retardation have been identified. Causes include rubella, syphilis, meningitis, toxoplasmosis; RH-factor, substance abuse, and chromosome abnormalities such Down Syndrome have been identified.

Parent Information and General Guidance Resource

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