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Developmental Delay, Mental Retardation


Is there a difference between developmental delay (DD) and mental retardation (MR)?

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Developmental delay refers to a lag in developmental skills compared to peers. It is a general term. Mental retardation (MR) is an educational term referring to a lower than average level of I.Q. (intellectual quotient) found through testing. It is helpful in determining the level of educational needs. More recently (MR) has been called Òintellectual disabilityÓ. Below are the comments from a parent: ÒThis was an issue at my daughterÕs Individual Education Program (IEP) meeting. Her testing indicated a full scale IQ of 69, putting her at the borderline MR category. I am not the least bit offended to have her labeled as having MR, and will often tell others that she has MR. However, her IEP team was afraid to categorize her IEP under the MR label because she may Òtest outÓ of that category with her new battery of testing. Because of her CdLS diagnosis, she is categorized as OHI instead (Other Health Impairment). I thought the semantics a bit crazy. Who really cares about the label as long as she is getting the services she needs? I will never forget what the CdLS Foundation Family Service Coordinator told me after my daughter was finally diagnosed, ÒWhatever the label, it doesnÕt change who your daughter is.Ó Parents shouldnÕt lose sleep over the labels because it doesnÕt change your child one little bit.

My daughter has just completed kindergarten in a mainstreamed environment, has learned to write her first and last name, as well as type it on the computer, and she knows and writes all her letters, both upper and lower case. She has amazed all of us this year with her tenacity and desire to learn. My advice is not to worry about the disability but focus on the abilities Ð they are amazing!Ó BD/TK 7-13-10

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