What are the traits of mental retardation?

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Mental retardation is characterized by a lower IQ, difficulties with daily living skills, learning disabilities, developmental delays, memory problems, and shortened attention spans. There are four classifications, and intelligence tests are crucial for diagnosis. Developmental delays, memory problems, and short attention spans are common signs. Each patient’s situation is unique, and related disorders may also be present.

The main features of mental retardation include a lower than average intelligence quotient (IQ), difficulties with practical skills of daily living, learning difficulties or disabilities, developmental delays, memory problems, and shortened attention spans. Not all people diagnosed with mental retardation will display all of the common characteristics, but most of them are present to some degree in most individuals with mental retardation. Mental retardation can also be linked to physical disabilities and an abnormal physical appearance.

There are four main classifications of mental retardation: mild, moderate, severe and profound. The features are more pronounced in individuals with severe and profound retardation. However, people diagnosed with mild retardation make up the majority of mental retardation diagnoses, and these individuals can often learn to function in society at a basic level despite their disadvantages.

Intelligence tests are an important part of a diagnosis of mental retardation. Mentally retarded individuals have IQs that are at least two-thirds lower than the average IQ for their age groups. Their lower overall intelligence levels are why mentally retarded individuals struggle to learn in academic and social settings. As children, they often need special teachers or classrooms to help them learn. Teaching a mentally retarded child basic skills, such as personal hygiene, usually takes more time and repetition than teaching the same skills to a child of average intelligence.

Developmental delays are common features of mental retardation and are present to some degree in all individuals with mental retardation. Children with mental retardation often don’t speak until later in life if they learn to communicate through language. Physical delays are also common, particularly in coordination, balance and dexterity. Babies who are born with certain syndromes, such as Down syndrome or fetal alcohol syndrome, are especially prone to physical developmental delays.

Memory problems and short attention spans are other common signs of mental retardation. These signs typically appear early in life for children who are born with mental retardation. People who experience concussions that result in brain damage later in life also often exhibit these characteristics. Mentally retarded individuals often find it difficult or even impossible to focus on a particular task or concept for more than a short period of time. Shorter attention spans often make memory problems more pronounced because individuals who can’t focus long enough to learn a task or concept have trouble remembering information later.

Each patient’s situation is somewhat unique, so the features of mental retardation present in some people may not be detectable in others. For example, many mentally retarded individuals who are able to speak have difficulty with pronunciation and sentence structure, while many mentally retarded individuals can speak normally. Many mentally retarded individuals also suffer from related disorders and problems, such as seizures, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), depression, autism, and behavioral disorders.

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