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Caring for Our People with Disabilities & Chronic Illness

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There are different levels of severity in retardation and there is great diversity among people with mental retardation. Some people with mild mental retardation live alone, hold down jobs, marry and have children. People with profound mental retardation need constant supervision throughout their lives. People who have the same level of mental retardation but have physical handicaps or emotional disorders will have more difficulty succeeding in school, finding employment or living alone.

There are literally hundreds of different disorders which include mental retardation as one characteristic...

Click here for information on Down syndrome, the most common type of mental retardation due to genetics

Click here for Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, the most common preventable type of mental retardation

Emotional disorders among people with mental retardation are common, and particularly so for those who have multiple handicaps - mental retardation and other disabilities. Imagine what it would be like not to be able to communicate your thoughts and feelings to other people.

stop signNo, I mean it seriously. Stop.Sit for two minutes and really think about what it would be like to want something very badly and not be able to communicate with anyone around you. Think about how frustrating that would be. Try to imagine what it would be like not to be able to share your ideas and feelings with other people. Is it any surprise to you that people with mental retardation might become frustrated and depressed? First, being intellectually limited makes it more difficult to come up with the right words, expression and tone to communicate what they want. If you add on top of that physical, visual or speech impairments that make verbal or non-verbal communication difficulty, people with these multiple handicaps are even more likely to struggle with emotional problems, social skills and independent living.

Never, never believe that just because a person has mental retardation that he or she cannot learn. Although mental retardation cannot be cured, in a nurturing, patient environment children, and adults, can learn many important skills. A child who is mentally retarded takes longer to develop the average skills of a child his age. Exactly how much longer varies from one person to the next. He takes longer to learn how to become toilet-trained, read, and speak. The child finds it hard to understand proper social interactions and use manners correctly. He is slower to learn health and safety, so often needs closer supervision than other children of his age. All lifestyle “rules” are learned slower, forgotten or difficult to absorb.

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