Mental retardation can be defined as the disability associated with development that appears in the initial stages of childhood especially in children under the age of 18 years (Lader 2001p101). It is characterized by an intellectual level that appears far below the limitations in the overall daily living skills- this can be measured by standardized examinations that determine the reasoning ability in relation to the mental age (LeCroy 2002p17).
In this case then we find that the children with mental retardation will experience problems with their adaptive skills such as the ability to make and comprehend language, the utilization of the community resources, social skills, functional academic skills, skills associated with home living, issues of self direction and self care to mention but a few of the problems experienced by these children (Martens 1999p49).
Children with mental retardation often display some symptoms which include low scores of IQ, aggression, disorders with the moods, injury to one self and the limited adaptive skills. There are a number of courses that are associated with the retardation of the mind (Hunter 2007). They include. genetics inherited from parents. It is estimated that approximately 5% of mental retardation cases are caused by hereditary factors. (Hargie et al. 2003p97).
The inheritance of a fragile X chromosome is the most common cause associated with inherited mental retardation. Other genetic factors may include defects of a single gene like phenylketonuria, errors associated with metabolism if not detected and treated early in life, genetic mutation e.t.c. issues associated with the prenatal conditions also cause mental retardation (Lawrence et al. 2001p17). The excessive intake of alcohol by a mother in her pregnancy leads to the birth of an infant with fetal alcohol syndrome (Hersen 2000p217).
Drug abuse as well as smoking of cigarettes during pregnancy is also associated with the mental retardation (Morrow 2003p392). Illness during pregnancy e.g. rubella, disorders of the glandular cells and toxoplasmosis have been known to cause mental retardation (Mathews 2001). High blood pressure may also cause a reduced energy supply to the fetus causing damage to the brain (Allen 2001p68). Childhood illnesses like measles, inflammation of the brain and Hib disease, as well as injuries to the nervous system may also cause mental retardation. Environmental factors like poor nutrition, poor medical care, and poor conditions of living are some of the other causes of mental retardation (Jeffrey 2003p138).
Children with mental moderate intellect disorders have IQ scores of 35-55 (Ishtiaq 2000p48). With moderate supervision, these children can carry out tasks and even take care of themselves (Meares 2000p14). They manage to acquire skills of communication during their childhood and they manage to live and even function with much success within the societies they are found in as long as they are supervised (Zinkin 2001p68).
Annette Marie La Greca, in Kumar 2002, described children with learning disabilities as of average while some are of above average intelligence but who nevertheless display widely scattered levels of skills that pertain to their academia (Kumar 2002p28).