Mental Retardation Definition - What Is Mental Retardation ? - Health Article

Mental Retardation Definition - What Is Mental Retardation ?

What is mental retardation ?

Mental retardation (literally mental retardation), in the past often referred oligofrenie, dementia, intellectual impairment, mental / intellectual disabilities is a developmental disorder in which the mental faculties do not develop normal speed and usually will not attain an average level. The person has by the cognitive deficit effort to fully function, in comparison with peers. Therefore talk of a learning disability or a mental disability. The term mentally retarded was also used. This is confusing, because with mentally very often "the psyche take the" or "psychiatric" is indicated.

 intellectual disabilities is a developmental disorder in which the mental faculties do no Mental Retardation Definition - What Is Mental Retardation ?

What causes mental retardation ?

There are many possible causes, including hereditary, congenital, acquired brain injury, traumatic or metabolic.

In some cases, they still can not figure out the exact cause. A frequent cause is a lack of oxygen during or after birth or "accidental" oxygen deficiency for example in a near drowning. Further, may also be a certain pathology, for example, meningitis in the early years, be a cause.


The severity of mental retardation can be identified by comparing with the age-related developmental level of a healthy child. For example, function at the level of a four-year-old. Primarily in global forms of retardation, which all powers are about equally underdeveloped, this interpretation is easily manageable. At the lower levels of retardation one sees a growing disparity of development in some areas.

There is a musim to no longer speak of degrees of mental incapacity, but in the level of development. Divide the different forms in levels of support. No or mild to full support, this better be able to protect the self-esteem and individuality of the person.

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders-IV-TR (2000 edition) distinguishes between mild, moderate, severe and profound mental retardation:
  • Mild mental retardation. 75% of people with intellectual disabilities among this group. These are people with an intelligence quotient (IQ) of 50 to 70. They reach a mental level of a child between 7 and 11 years old. This form was formerly known as debility or debilitas. (DSM code 317) Single-adjusted primary education is possible.
  • Moderate dementia occurs in 18% of the mentally retarded persons, involving people with an IQ of 35 to 50 (imbecility, or imbecilitas). Gets no higher mental level than a normal child of 7 years. (DSM code 318.0)
  • Severe dementia means that, apart from an IQ of 20 to 35, including a minimum of communicative behavior, poor motor development and the need for constant supervision. About 7% of cases fall into this subcategory. (DSM-code 318.1)
  • Deep dementia only occurs in 1% of cases and indicates an IQ of less than 20. People who suffer, need a structuring environment, sensory stimulation and constant supervision. Elementary human contact is possible only in exceptional cases, there is minimal crosstalk. This form was also called idiotie in the past. (DSM-code 318.2)
The concepts debility, imbecility and idiocy are obsolete in medicine, but are often used as a term of abuse. Also one speaks nowadays preferably not more of dementia, but from an intellectual disability.


Retardation can "lacunar" (there's something missing) or 'global'.

A known form of a congenital handicap is Down's syndrome, the cause of which is a chromosome too much (therefore also known as trisomy 21 called).

Retardation may be associated with many other disorders such as autism, schizophrenia, ADHD, PDD-NOS or physical disabilities. In such cases one speaks of multiple handicaps.

Furthermore you have a very large number, relatively rare, genetic disorders associated with mental retardation, such as Fragile X syndrome, Angelman syndrome, the Prader-Willi Syndrome, Williams syndrome, Rett syndrome, Tuberous Sclerosis Complex and many others. Metabolic diseases such as Alzheimer's San Filippo and galactosemia can also be the cause of mental retardation.

Mental retardation treatment

Treatment of retardation is usually not possible, but special education (in the Netherlands: special education in Flanders: special education) or specific support in mainstream schools (see inclusive education) has been appointed to try to achieve the maximum feasible level.

Or treatment of peripheral phenomena is often possible. Many forms of genetic disabilities also bring other limitations as well. Such a person with Down syndrome have an increased risk of thyroid disorders, dementia and heart disease. Through regular monitoring in this type of risk groups, these diseases can be treated or delayed. Since 2000 in the Netherlands medical specialty doctor for the Mentally Disabled own training.


In practice, it is especially important to watch how someone can save himself for determining whether a person can live independently or in a group home and if someone ambulatory (only periodically) or 24-hour need guidance. This will include looking at the levels of Activities of Daily Living (ADL: personal care), social skills and emotional skills, along with the degree of disability and the degree to which someone needs support in this.

A commune is a group of mentally disabled people cohabiting under supervision, often classified according to the degree of disability in combination with the degree of self-reliance.

A mentally retarded can be incorporated into an institution with attendant or nursing staff. If someone can not eat independently, talking, dressing, bathing or going to the toilet is very intensive care. Many of these very seriously retarded learning does not walk and his wheelchair or bedridden. For people with mental retardation combined with (serious) behavioral problems exist Intensive Supervision Groups.

In recent years, also exists in countries where institutional facilities available are the tendency that parents love their children more and more at home and opt for support in the form of home supervision, a guest house or just spend the day in an institution.

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