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12 March 2004

Symptoms of intellectual disability

All children grow and develop at different rates. Only if a child is slow in several ways should you be concerned.

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All children grow and develop at different rates. Only if a child is slow in several ways should you be concerned.

According to the South African Federation for Mental Health the following are signs to look for:

  • baby does not suck
  • baby has convulsions – fits or shakes
  • baby is either very stiff or very floppy
  • even when the child is older, he/she is like a newborn when picked up
  • baby cries all the time and cannot be comforted
  • baby sleeps all the time and shows no interest in surroundings
  • baby has strange eye movements (the eyes “roll” and do not make eye contact)
  • baby has strange body or facial movements – pulling to the side, rocking, etc
  • baby has strange cry – an animal-like sound or high-pitched scream
  • as the baby grows older, he/she will be slower than other babies to develop, to sit, stand and walk
  • a young child who is less curious and less active than other children of the same age or a child who is too active/hyperactive and unable to concentrate

Mentally disabled children need to be taught to be as self-sufficient as possible, to reach their full potential and to be prepared for adult life. As adults, some people with mental handicap will be able to live independently with little support. Others will need constant support and supervision and some require total care.

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