Mental Disability- issues and coping mechanisms

The life experience of a normal human being and that of a mentally disabled person are clearly very different. For a normal person physical growth is dominant since birth, till adolescence and the period thereafter is characterized by mental and emotional growth influenced by education, guidance, social interactionsand experience. The same cannot be said of the mentally disabled children. In their case, they may have a normal physical growth but it is often marked by an insufficient mental and emotional growth, causing a disparity between their age and understanding. Therefore, a 20 year old mentally disabled person may have the mental ability of a 4 year old kid.

Normal people have an I.Q. of 90 to 120 whereas a mentally disabled person may have an I.Q. in the range of 0 to 70. The I.Q. is measured by a Psychiatrist by conducting some tests, after considering the age and physical disability of a person.

Mental Disability can be caused by a variety of factors. Better known and the most prevalent of them can be categorized as:

Pre-birth factors

Factors at the time of birth, and

Post-birth factors. 

Pre birth factors

Addictions like tobacco, alcohol before or after conceiving, mental stress, various medical tests during pregnancy, consumption of medicines for abortion, very young or very old age of mother, some illnesses of mother during pregnancy, malnutrition of mother, polluted environment etc. can cause the mental disability in a child. We cannot deny hereditary mental disability from earlier generations of father or mother.

Factors at the time of Birth (Congenital abnormality)

Mismatch of blood group, Lack of Oxygen supply to the infant due to delay in birth, premature child, usage of some medical procedures during birth, underweight child.

Post birth factors.

Infants with Jaundice, some contagious diseases, Encephalitis, Meningitis, Infant malnutrition.

Due to new effective medicines and other facilities like Sonography, C.T.scan etc., the cases of mental disability are decreasing. Tripple marker test of blood of mother which tests Alfafeto proteins.Estrial-estimation and Beta HCG rule out mongolism and open neural tube defects like Anencephaly and Spina bifida or Myelomeningocele. But even today, there is a high proportion of the disability caused by lack of Oxygen supply to the brain of the child when the child doesn’t cry immediately after birth.  If the child doesn’t cry in 8 to 10 minutes of birth, artificial oxygen is supplied by inserting a tube in the air tube. If this doesn’t work, there is a great possibility of the child having permanent mental disability which is incurable. In some other countries, by a unanimous decision between the obstetrician & the gynecologist, the artificial oxygen supply is stopped after 15 minutes. It obviates the burden on the parents and the society to raise and maintain a mentally disabled child for the whole life.