Friday, 10 April 2015

Developmental Disorders Series

Parent Seek Help for Mental Retardation Child
Where to Start Seek Help

Mental Retardation

I. What is Mental Retardation? (More Details Here)

Mental retardation (MR) is a developmental problem manifested during a child’s years of development (i.e. 0-18 years old). It is a condition whereby a child’s intelligence and adaptability are significantly below the average level of his peers.

II. What causes Mental Retardation?

Genetic factors
-- Hereditary factors or chromosomal abnormalities
Pregnancy and birth factors
-- e.g. misuse of drugs or excessive alcohol intake during pregnancy, complication of birth, prematurity
Infancy and childhood
-- Infections and brain injuries, e.g. meningitis, brain trauma, etc.
Unknown factors
-- The cause in most cases is unknown

III. How does Mental Retardation affect the child?

Developmental aspects affected by MR:
  • Attention
  • Memory
  • Language ability
  • Gross and fine motor coordination
  • Learning and problem-solving abilities
  • Social and self-care skills
  • Ability to control emotion and behavior

As the child’s abilities in the above aspects are significantly lower than children of comparable age, his/her adaptability in daily life would be affected.

  • Ability to communicate
  • Self-care
  • Housework
  • Social skills
  • Working and learning
  • Community life 

IV. How is Mental Retardation diagnosed?

The diagnosis of MR should be made through professional assessment by psychologists or

V. What are the different grades of Mental Retardation?

According to the prevailing international classification system, MR can be classified into the
following grades according to its severity:

  • Persons with “mild” to “moderate” MR face relatively fewer obstacles during their development. They can acquire general daily living and self-care skills with proper training and assistance.
  • Persons with “severe” to “profound” MR require intensive training and support in various aspects to cope with basic needs in daily life

A “three-tier system” is normally used for operational classification, i.e. MR is classified into “mild”, “moderate” and “severe” (including severe and profound) grades for the provision of special educational and training services.

VI. What are the general achievements of persons with Mental Retardation? 

Pre-school phase
(0-5 years old) 
School age phase
(6-15 years old) 
Adolescence and adulthood
(16 years old or above)
Mild MR  ● Overall development is
slower than peers.
problems may not be
easily identified until
the child starts primary
● Can master basic
learning skills (e.g.
writing, reading and
numeracy skills)
● Can acquire proper
pre-vocational skills 
● Can integrate into
community with
● With assistance, can
be employed in simple
work, and lead a
social life in
● Overall development is
obviously slower than
● Can acquire basic
communication skills
and simple self-care
● Can learn some
practical skills for daily
● Can live independently
to a certain extent in
familiar environment
and with proper support
● Can learn to perform
simple tasks in
specially designed
working environment
Severe /
● Significant discrepancy
in overall development
when compared with
● Some children may also
have physical
● Limited communication
abilities and response to
the environment 
● Delayed development
in motor abilities
● Can learn limited
communication skills
and simple self-care
● Possess simple
communication skills
● Can master limited
basic self-care skills
with special support 

VII. How can parents help their child with Mental Retardation?

  • Arrange early assessment for the child so as to understand and accept his/her developmental problems
  • Involve in the child’s training so as to master the training methods and communicate with the instructors
  • Join parent self-help groups and make good use of community resources
  • Share feelings with others to relieve negative emotion and stress 

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