Little boy hands under chin
A child who develops more slowly than her peers is often thought to have a mental handicap. Children with mental handicap frequently do everything slowly: they sit up late, crawl late, walk and talk late.

A family may begin to wonder about an intellectual disability if motor skills, language skills and self-help skills do not seem to be developing in a child or are developing at a far slower rate than the child’s peers.

Approximately 1 to 3% of children have a mental handicap. Slow learners also have mental handicap, but can usually manage their lives without extensive support. Intellectual disability is often caused by chromosomal differences such as Down Syndrome, Fragile X Syndrome and Prader-Willli Syndrome.

Signs of Mental Handicap:

  • Intellectual developmental markers (like a sense of self, understanding social behaviour) are not present.
  • Behavior which is consistently “young for age”
  • Limited capacity for learning, especially abstract concepts, “slow learner”
  • Difficulty with age appropriate educational/academic demands