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Levels of Mental Retardation
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Mild Mental Retardation

bullet.gif (261 bytes) Moderate Mental Retardation
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Severe Mental Retardation

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Profound Mental Retardation

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Mild Mental Retardation
This group constitutes by far the largest number of those labeled mentally retarded. Persons in this group are considered "educable", and their intellectual levels as adults are comparable to that of the average 8 to 11 year old child. Their social adjustment often approximates that of the adolescent, although they tend to lack the normal adolescent's imagination, inventiveness, and judgement. Ordinarily they do not show the signs of brain pathology or other physical anomalies. Often they require some measure of supervision due to limited ability to foresee the consequences of their actions. With early diagnosis, parental assistance, and special educational programs, the great majority can adjust socially, master simple academic and occupational skills, and become self-supporting citizens.

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Moderate Mental Retardation
Individuals in this group are likely to fall in the educational category of "trainable". In adult life, individuals classified as moderately retarded attain intellectual levels similar to that of the average 4 to 7-year-old child. While some of the brighter ones can be taught to read and write a little, and some manage to achieve a fair command of spoken language, the rate of learning is relatively slow among members of this group, and the level of conceptualizing extremely limited. Physically, they usually appear clumsy and ungainly, and they suffer from bodily deformities and poor motor coordination. A distinct minority of these children is hostile and aggressive, but typically they present an affable and somewhat vacuous personality picture.

With early diagnosis, parental help, and adequate opportunities for training, most of the moderately retarded can achieve partial independence in daily self-care, acceptable behavior, and economic usefulness in a family or other sheltered environment. Whether or not they require institutionalization usually depends on their general level of adaptive behavior and the nature of their home situation.

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Severe Mental Retardation
Individuals in this group are sometimes referred to as "dependent retarded". Among these individuals, motor and speech development is severely retarded and sensory defects and motor handicaps are common. These mental retardates can develop limited levels of personal hygiene and self-help skills, which somewhat lessen their dependence, but all their lives they will be dependent on others for care. However, many profit to some extent from training and can perform simple occupational tasks under supervision.

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Profound Mental Retardation
The term "life support" mental retardate is sometimes used in referring to individuals in this category. Most of these persons are severely deficient in adaptive behavior and unable to master any but simplest tasks. Useful speech, if develops at all, is on the rudimentary level. Severe physical deformities, central nervous system pathology, and retarded growth are typical, and convulsive seizures, mutism, deafness, and other physical anomalies are common. These retardates must maintain in custodial care all their lives. However, health and resistance to disease is lowered, and a short life expectancy is usual.

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