What is Mental Retardation?

A person is considered to have mental retardation if their IQ score falls below 70, significant limitations exist in two or more adaptive skill areas, and their condition has been present since birth.


Adaptive skill areas are those daily living skills needed to live, work and play in the community.  Those skills include communication, self-care, home living, social, leisure, health and safety, self-direction, community living, work and functional academics such as reading, writing and basic math.  Adaptive skills are assessed in the person’s typical environment across all aspects of their life.  Someone with an IQ score below 70 who does not have limits in adaptive skill areas may not be diagnosed as having mental retardation.


Mental retardation can be caused by any condition which impairs development of the brain before birth, during birth, or in the childhood years.  Several hundred causes have been discovered, but in about one-third of the people affected, the cause remains unknown.  The three major known causes of mental retardation are Down syndrome, fetal alcohol syndrome and fragile X syndrome.


It is estimated that three percent of the general population has mental retardation.  Mental retardation cuts across the lines of racial, ethnic, educational, social and economic backgrounds.  It can occur in any family, and one out of ten American families is directly affected by mental retardation.


If you would like more information on mental retardation, contact The Arc at 734-729-9100.


Phone code: 1700

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