WORTHY ELFREDA E.
PROBLEMS OF THE MENTALLY CHALLENGED
Mentally challenged is an euphemism which has been
used for terms like; mental retardation, developmental
To be mentally challenged, or to have a developmental
disability, is to be confronted with a cognitive,
emotional or physical impairment, especially one
related to abnormal sensory or motor development.
The difficulty appears in infancy or childhood and
involves a failure or delay in progressing through the
normal developmental stages of childhood.
Mental retardation is a generalized disorder,
characterized by significantly impaired cognitive
functioning and deficits in two or more adaptive
behaviors with onset before the age of 18.
It has historically been defined as an Intelligence
Quotient score under 70.
Studies in the united states have shown that it affects
about 3% of the general population, commoner in
males with a ratio of 2:1
A number of interrelated biological, physical and
social factors have been found to play important roles
in developing these mental challenges.
According to the latest edition of the Diagnostic and
Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV) three
criteria must be met for a diagnosis of mental
an IQ below 70,
significant limitations in two or more areas of adaptive
behavior (as measured by an adaptive behavior rating
scale, i.e. communication, self-help skills,
interpersonal skills, and more)
and evidence that the limitations became apparent
before the age of 18.
Classification using I.Q
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Since the diagnosis is not based only on IQ scores, but
must also take into consideration a person's adaptive
functioning, the diagnosis is not made rigidly.
It encompasses intellectual scores, adaptive
functioning scores from an adaptive behavior rating
scale based on descriptions of known abilities
provided by someone familiar with the person,
and also the observations of the assessment examiner
who is able to find out directly from the person what
he or she can understand, communicate, and the like.
PROBLEMS OF THE MENTALLY
Children with mental retardation 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 mental retardation may
also exhibit the following characteristics:
Delay with oral language development
Difficulty learning social rules
Deficits in memory skills
Difficulty with problem solving skills
Lack of social inhibitions
Problems of the mentally
The limitations of cognitive functioning will cause a child
with mental retardation to learn and develop more slowly
than a typical child.
Children may take longer to learn language, develop social
skills, and take care of their personal needs such as
dressing or eating.
Learning will take them longer, require more repetition,
and skills may need to be adapted to their learning level.
Nevertheless, virtually every child is able to learn, develop
and become participating members of the community.
Mental retardation was clearly associated with poverty
and social deprivation. There was fear of degradation
of the population if sufferers were permitted to
Hence mentally retarded pt where usually kept in
institution remote and custodial in character which
were usually poorly financed and attracted poor
quality and ill trained staff.
Recently (over the past 30 yrs) the Aim
of care has shifted towards promoting
This might be difficult on the pt alone
hence the need for the parents to be
This is been achieved through
Advocacy (legal and civil right)
Restricting new admission into institutional
Relocating existing residence into the
This is termed comprehensive community based service
complex comprising of
A home to live in
Work and training for work (vocational)
Summary of care
Screening (3 phases)
involves keeping a list of those considered to be at risk
and following them up from birth to school age.
every child born is followed up from birth to school
a child is screened specifically for mental retardation.
Summary of care
2. Proper diagnosis to avoid wrong labeling of an
3. Treatment multidisciplinary approach
4. Education(if possible)
5. Vocational training(if possible)
The mentally challenged are no different from other
people and should be shown love, care and support.
Taking care of them requires assistance and
acceptance from the society, as it is not a task for just