CHILDREN WHO ARE MENTALLY RETARDED
Articles for Parents
All Family Resources
Alphabetical List
  1. Children and Divorce
  2. Teenagers with Eating Disorders
  3. Teens: Alcohol and Other Drugs
  4. The Depressed Child
  5. Child Abuse - The Hidden Bruises
  6. Children Who Can't Pay Attention
  7. Children Who Won't Go to School
  8. Children and Grief
  9. Child Sexual Abuse
  10. Teen Suicide
  11. The Child with Autism
  12. Children Who Steal
  13. Children and TV Violence
  14. Children and Family Moves
  15. The Adopted Child
  16. Children with Learning Disabilities
  17. Children of Alcoholics
  18. Bedwetting
  19. The Child with a Long-Term Illness
  20. Making Day Care a Good Experience
  21. Psychiatric Medication for Children and Adolescents Part I: How Medications Are Used
  22. Normality
  23. Mental Retardation
  24. Know When to Seek Help for Your Child
  25. Who can be contacted to seek Help for Your Child
  26. Know Your Health Insurance Benefits
  27. Stepfamily Problems
  28. Responding to Child Sexual Abuse
  29. Psychiatric Medication for Children and Adolescents Part II: Types of Medications
  30. Children and AIDS
  31. When Children Have Children
  32. 11 Questions to Ask Before Psychiatric Hospital Treatment of Children and Adolescents
  33. Conduct Disorders
  34. Children's Sleep Problems
  35. Tic Disorders
  36. Helping Children After a Disaster
  37. Children and Firearms
  38. Bipolar Disorder (Manic-Depressive Illness) in Teens
  39. Children of Parents with Mental Illness
  40. The Influence of Music and Music Videos
  41. Substance Abuse Treatment for Children and Adolescents: Questions to Ask
  42. The Continuum of Care
  43. Discipline
  44. Children and Lying
  45. Lead Exposure
  46. Home Alone Children
  47. The Anxious Child
  48. Problems with Soiling and Bowel Control
  49. Schizophrenia in Children
  50. Panic Disorder in Children and Adolescents
  51. Psychiatric Medications for Children and Adolescents Part III: Questions to Ask
  52. Comprehensive Psychiatric Evaluation
  53. What is Psychotherapy For Children and Adolescents?
  54. Children and Watching TV
  55. Understanding Violent Behavior in Children & Adolescents
  56. Parenting: Preparing for Adolescence
  57. Normal Adolescent Development - Middle School and Early High School Years
  58. Normal Adolescent Development - Late High School Years and Beyond
  59. Children Online
  60. Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder in Children and Adolescents
  61. Children and Sports
  62. Talking to Your Kids About Sex
  63. Gay And Lesbian Adolescents
  64. Foster Care
  65. Children's Threats: When are they serious? 
  66. Helping Teenagers with Stress
  67. Children and The News
  68. Tobacco and Kids
  69. Asperger's Disorder
  70. Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  71. Multiracial Children
  72. Children with Oppositional Defiant Disorder
  73. Self-Injury in Adolescents
  74. Advocating for Your Child
  75. Pets and Children
  76. Helping Your Teen Become a Safe Driver
  77. Grandparents Raising Grandchildren
  78. When a Pet Dies
  79. Obesity in Children and Teens
  80. Bullying #80
CHILDREN WHO ARE MENTALLY RETARDED

The term "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 everyone else.

In the 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 public expense.

Mental 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.

It is 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.

These 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 plan.

Emotional 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.

Early 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 mental retardation.

Periodic 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 growing up.

For additional 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).

Article #23 Updated 8/99

All Family Resources wishes to thank the (AACAP) for giving us permission to use this article.

The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP) represents over 6,900 child and adolescent psychiatrists who are physicians with at least five years of additional training beyond medical school in general (adult) and child and adolescent psychiatry.

Facts for Families is developed and distributed by the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP). Facts sheets may be reproduced for personal or educational use without written permission, but cannot be included in material presented for sale. To order full sets of FFF, contact Public Information, 1.800.333.7636.  Free distribution of individual Facts sheets is a public service of the AACAP Special Friends of Children Fund. Please make a tax deductible contribution to the AACAP Special Friends of Children Fund and support this important public outreach. (AACAP, Special Friends of Children Fund, P.O. Box 96106, Washington, D.C. 20090).
   
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