Intelligence (Mental Retardation)

What is mental retardation?
Mental retardation is an intellectual disability that results in intellectual capabilities significantly below average. Mental retardation can interfere with learning, the ability to care for oneself, and the ability to meet general societal expectations about how to behave. It is generally defined as an IQ below 70, although people with IQs slightly above this number may have extreme difficulty functioning while people with IQs slightly below this number may not have such difficulties. Historically, the diagnosis was given to anyone with a low IQ, but in contemporary psychology mental retardation has an adjustment component and below-average intelligence alone is not sufficient to warrant a diagnosis.

What Causes Mental Retardation?
To be diagnosed with mental retardation, symptoms must be present in childhood. Adults who experience a loss in cognitive functioning may be diagnosed with another illness such as dementia. A number of factors can cause mental retardation, including:
– Down Syndrome and fetal alcohol syndrome significantly increase a person’s risk of mental retardation, though not all people with these conditions have mental retardation.
– Improper development during pregnancy can contribute to the development of symptoms, and exposure to certain drugs in utero—particularly illegal drugs and alcohol—greatly increases a fetus’ risk of being born with mental retardation.
– Illness and infection that affect the brain may lead to the condition, and very high fevers in early childhood can cause mental retardation. Measles and meningitis may also contribute to the development of mental retardation.

In as many as half of all cases, the cause of mental retardation is not known.

Mental retardation

There are many signs of an Intellectual Disability. For example, children may:
– Sit up, crawl, or walk later than other children
– Learn to talk later or have trouble speaking
– Have trouble understanding social rules
– Have trouble seeing the consequences of their actions
– Have trouble solving problems
– Have trouble thinking logically

How are Intellectual Disabilities Diagnosed?
A child has to have both a significantly low IQ and considerable problems in everyday functioning to be diagnosed with ID.

About the IQ test:
IQ (“Intelligence Quotient”) measures a child’s learning and problem solving skills. A normal IQ score is around 100. Children with ID have a low IQ score–most score between 70 and 55 or lower.
Usually, children are not able to do an intelligence test (Intelligence Quotient Test or IQ test) until they are 4 to 6 years old. Therefore, parents may have to wait until a child reaches that age before knowing for sure if their child has ID. Sometimes, it can take longer.

Advice for parents
Don’t give up! Explore their potentials. With the right support, most will be able to live independently as adults, and able to learn new skills.

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