Mental retardation history and symptoms

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Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [1]

History and Symptoms

There are many signs. For example, children with developmental disabilities may learn to sit up, to crawl, or to walk later than other children, or they may learn to talk later. Both adults and children with intellectual disabilities may also

In early childhood mild disability (IQ 60–70) may not be obvious, and may not be diagnosed until children begin school. Even when poor academic performance is recognized, it may take expert assessment to distinguish mild mental disability from learning disability or behavior problems. As they become adults, many people can live independently and may be considered by others in their community as "slow" rather than retarded.

Moderate disability (IQ 50–60) is nearly always obvious within the first years of life. These people will encounter difficulty in school, at home, and in the community. In many cases they will need to join special, usually separate, classes in school, but they can still progress to become functioning members of society. As adults they may live with their parents, in a supportive group home, or even semi-independently with significant supportive services to help them, for example, manage their finances.

Among people with intellectual disabilities, only about one in eight will score below 50 on IQ tests. A person with a more severe disability will need more intensive support and supervision his or her entire life.

The limitations of cognitive function will cause a child to learn and develop more slowly than a typical child. Children may take longer to learn to speak, walk, and take care of their personal needs such as dressing or eating. Learning will take them longer, require more repetition, and there may be some things they cannot learn. The extent of the limits of learning is a function of the severity of the disability.

Nevertheless, virtually every child is able to learn, develop, and grow to some extent.

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