"mental retardation" is often misunderstood and seen as derogatory.
Some think that retardation is diagnosed only on the basis
of below-normal intelligence (IQ), and that persons with mental
retardation are unable to learn or to care for themselves.
Actually, in order to be diagnosed as a person with mental
retardation, the person has to have both significantly low
IQ and considerable problems in adapting to everyday life.
However, most children with mental retardation can learn a
great deal, and as adults can lead at least partially independent
lives. Most importantly, they can enjoy their lives just as
past, parents were usually advised to institutionalize a child
with significant mental retardation. This is not done anymore.
The goal now is for the child with mental retardation to stay
in the family and take part in community life. In most states,
the law guarantees them educational and other services at
retardation may be complicated by physical and emotional problems.
The child may also have difficulty with hearing, sight or
speech. All these problems can lower the child's potential.
very important that the child has a comprehensive evaluation
to find out about his or her difficulties, as well as strengths.
Since no specialist has all the necessary skills, many professionals
might be involved. General medical tests as well as tests
in areas such as neurology (the nervous system), psychology,
psychiatry, special education, hearing, speech and vision,
and physical therapy are useful. A pediatrician or a child
and adolescent psychiatrist often coordinates these tests.
physicians refer the child for the necessary tests and consultations,
put together the results, and jointly with the family and
the school develop a comprehensive treatment and education
and behavioral disorders may be associated with mental retardation,
and they may interfere with the child's progress. Most children
with mental retardation recognize that they are behind others
of their own age. Some may become frustrated, withdrawn or
anxious, or act "bad" to get the attention of other youngsters
and adults. Adolescents and young adults with mental retardation
may become depressed. These persons might not have enough
language skills to talk about their feelings, and their depression
may be shown by new problems, for instance in their behavior,
eating and sleeping.
diagnosis of psychiatric disorders in children with mental
retardation leads to early treatment. Medications are one
part of overall treatment and management of children with
consultation may with a child and adolescent psychiatrist
help the family in setting appropriate expectations, limits,
opportunities to succeed, and other measures which will help
their child with mental retardation handle the stresses of
information see Facts for Families:
#69 Asperger's Disorder,
#21 Psychiatric Medications for Children,
#11 The Child With Autism, and
#16 Children with Learning Disabilities.
See also: Your Child (1998 Harper Collins)/Your
Adolescent (1999 Harper Collins).
#23 Updated 8/99