Clinical Psychology, School Counseling

Mental Retardation Signs and Symptoms in Children

Not every child is the same. The signs and symptoms of psychological retardation deffer with different children. Here are a few:

  • Difficulty in articulating a point
  • Learning speech at a slower rate
  • Misplacing objects
  • Having trouble remembering things
  • Poor academic performance
  • Overall Low Intelligence
  • Poor performance in IQ tests
  • Particular attention required to learn simple skills
  • Have trouble putting on clothes
  • Behavioural Symptoms
    • Aggression
    • Depression
    • Anxiety
    • Impulsive
    • The tendency to inflict injury on self
    • Suicidal thoughts
    • Poor interpersonal relationships
    • Excessive dependency on parents
    • Unable to respond to situations in a measured manner
    • Low attention span

Characteristics of Mentally Disabled Kids

Mentally disabled, also known as differently abled kids portray the following characteristics.

  • Bad Memory: These kids have a short-term memory recall. However, when doing a task repeatedly, they can recall information without displaying any symptoms of mental retardation.
  • Slow Learning Curve: Their ability to process new information is relatively low when compared to other kids. That does not mean they are incapable of learning. Some educationists are of the view that a slowing down of the instructions can help in better reception of the information.
  • Attention Deficiency: They are unable to sustain their attention for too long on a single task. A good way of tackling this deficiency is by making them aware of the most crucial aspect of the work and then building their attention from there on.
  • Disinterest: Due to repeated failures, some children don’t trust their skills, even if they are correct. Over time they lose faith in their abilities and become disinterested in learning.
  • Independent Living: One of the brighter side children with special needs can be trained in repetitive tasks which they can master over time. This can help them stay independent for a short duration of time and also prepare them for adulthood.
  • Inability to Restrain Emotions: As children grow older, they can give measured responses when faced with unknown situations. Children with mental disabilities are unable to do this and may respond unpredictably, usually displaying aggression. Once the episode is over, they can sense that they have misbehaved and are capable of feeling like they are a burden.
  • Social Development: Due to bizarre outbursts and poor language skills, they may be unable to have healthy social interactions.
  • Application of New Ideas: They are unable to incorporate any newly acquired skills innovatively.


There a few ways to diagnose mental retardation in kids.

  • Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scale: This test gauges quantitative reasoning, knowledge, fluid reasoning, visual-spatial processing and memory. It is one of the primary tests that identify learning disorders in children.
  • Kaufman Assessment Battery for Children: This test is used to assess the cognitive development of a child. The types of tests administered are wide-ranging and vary based on the age of the child. This test is not a stand-alone test, meaning that the results of this analysis must be seen in conjunction with other tests.
  • Bayley Scale of Infant Development: This is a standardised test for infants between 1-42 months of age. Motor, language and cognitive skills are tested. This, in turn, helps to screen out children who are prone to having development problems in the future.


There is no medical “cure” for mental retardation. However, there are ways in which you can enrich their lives and help them have a pleasant childhood.

  • Stem Cell Therapy: This can be beneficial for children who have Down Syndrome. While it cannot eliminate Down Syndrome, it can help repair any damaged cells which help in improving their cognitive abilities.
  • Acupuncture: Studies have shown that children who given this form of treatment saw a marked increase in IQ tests as well as social skills.
  • Home Schooling: As the pace of learning is slow, homeschooling is a good option where the child can thrive in a protected environment. If the child is auditory rather than visual, the entire learning experience can be changed based on the child’s needs. This flexibility would not be available in schools.
  • Special Needs Schools: These schools have other children with disabilities studying under the same roof. The classes are conducted at a slower pace, and hence the children can grasp the concepts quickly.

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