Can you say intellectual disability

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Diagnosis: intellectual disability

The birth of a mentally handicapped child is an enormous psychological burden for all affected parents. With a time delay - but just as frightening - such a diagnosis hits the parents if it only becomes apparent in the course of a child's development. You have to get used to the idea of ​​being the father or mother of a child who is not like most of the others.

Many parents report that they initially rejected their child at times or suppressed the fact of the disability. Negative feelings, anger and sadness as well as feelings of guilt or shame are initially completely normal in such a situation.

Another complicating factor is that, in most cases, when the diagnosis is made, it cannot be predicted exactly which skills your child will actually develop.
Despite these difficult conditions, most parents manage to accept their child with all its positive and negative qualities over time and to adapt their life, their life planning and their life expectancy to the special situation.

What is an intellectual disability?

The term intellectual disability does not describe a narrowly circumscribed clinical picture, but rather serves as a kind of collective term for diverse manifestations and degrees of severity of intellectual limitations.

Children are referred to as mentally handicapped if their measurable intelligence is below a certain threshold and who are clearly limited in their ability to cope with the demands of daily life. Experts distinguish four degrees of severity of intellectual impairment: mild, moderate, severe and severe intellectual disability.
The group with mild intellectual disabilities is the largest subgroup with around 85%. With appropriate support and encouragement, these children can acquire academic and professional skills and successfully participate in social life.

What are the effects of an intellectual disability?

Intellectual disabilities result in significant learning disabilities.
It manifests itself in early childhood as a clear developmental delay that affects all areas that have to be learned.
Above all, perception and language development are particularly affected. Mentally handicapped children usually start speaking late, if at all, and learn the meanings of words and grammatical rules very slowly. Overall, almost all learning processes are significantly slowed down.
On the basis of intellectual deficit, many affected children also develop behavioral problems or other accompanying disorders such as attention deficit / hyperactivity disorder, tic disorders or obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Why is my child mentally disabled?

The reasons for an intellectual disability can be very different. In about a third of the cases it is not possible to say exactly what caused the disability.
The most common causes of intellectual disability are early disorders in the cell division of the fetus (such as in Down's syndrome) and damage from infections or exposure of the mother to harmful substances (alcohol, medication) during pregnancy.

In addition, hereditary metabolic disorders, birth defects, infections in childhood or severe deficiency in supply during early childhood can cause intellectual disability.
You can also read our article on complications during childbirth here.

Where is my child best supported?

Unfortunately, there are no therapeutic measures that can reverse an intellectual disability.
However, the consequences can be mitigated by starting early and suitable funding measures. And every child can learn abilities and skills within the scope of their possibilities which enable them to participate in social life as much as possible.

In addition to necessary medical therapies, you should seek early support from an early stage support facility. In addition to outpatient services, there are care facilities available with suitable funding opportunities. For both preschool and school age, some facilities also offer integrative groups in which disabled and non-disabled children are cared for together.

As a rule, however, mentally handicapped children are taught in special day-care centers and special needs schools that cater to the special needs of the children in small groups. Schools for mentally handicapped children are mostly designed as all-day facilities and take into account the individual capabilities of each child.

Which facility is most suitable for your child can only be decided on the basis of the skills and needs of your child and the corresponding offers on site.
Doctors and therapists as well as employees of early intervention facilities can certainly give you valuable information and recommendations.

How can I help my child?

You can only really help your child and support the necessary support measures in an appropriate form once you have largely accepted your extraordinary situation yourself.
Since being the father or mother of a mentally retarded child is a difficult fact to deal with, this processing process will take some time.
Processing can be made easier through the emotional support of your relatives and friends.
Most of the time, people from your social environment are also unsettled by the unusual situation. Therefore, speak openly with them about what kind of support would really help you.

Many of those affected describe contacts to self-help groups of parents of disabled children as particularly helpful, as they can talk to people who are in a similar situation.
So that you can muster enough strength and patience to care for and support your child, it is important that you do not impose too much on yourself. You should therefore speak to relatives and friends or the experts at a counseling center about ways of relieving yourself and your family.
Since the developmental ability of mentally handicapped children is often difficult to assess, it can easily come to over- or under-demands in daily dealings with them. Effective learning can only take place, however, if the child is presented with appropriate offers and demands based on individual performance.

Parents often tend to take care of their mentally handicapped child and rather ask too little of them. Therefore, speak to therapists, doctors, and teachers who know your child well about their assessment. They can often give you valuable advice on how to deal with your child on a day-to-day basis.

You can find help for everyday life with a disabled child and contact with other affected parents on the website.

Please also read our articles about the following accompanying disorders:

Further information

Parents letters

This topic can be found in the letters from parents ...