How to Understand and Help Mentally Challenged Children

Mentally challenged children are kids that do not have the capability to maximize their intellectual potential. They usually lag behind their peers when it comes to the display of intelligence. However, the extent of mental disabilities in children varies. There are some with a mild mental impairment. Such children can catch up with their equals with some help over a few years. But for those with chronic mental disabilities, they would only learn basic skills that they need to stay alive such as bathing, brushing, and feeding. However, no matter the extent of the disabilities in the mentally challenged children around you, there are basic things you need to know so as to understand and help them. And they are as follows:

  • Learn about the condition: Educating yourself more about mental challenges would help you understand a child that has such disability. You need to know about the cause of mental impairments, including the pros, and cons associated with the conditions. You can also read more materials about expected behavior of such children. And most importantly, read about how to accept them unconditionally. You can check sites like BioMed Central and WebMD for more information about mentally challenged children.
  • Teach them independence: Being mentally challenged is not supposed to make a child entirely reliant on you. So help mentally challenged children to be independent. Allow them to solve tasks that seem a bit confusing for them. For example, teach them how to identify colors and how to always sort their clothing based on the colors. Also, you can encourage them to clean up after messing up their eating table. They might not do the cleaning well for a few years, but with time, they would master the act. Another option is to write down simple things that they find difficult to do. And encourage them to do it over and over again. Once they learn a particular task, they can never forget the skill and they wouldn’t have to depend on you for that task ever again.
  • Encourage them to be expressive: Several mentally challenged children are not expressive due to the fear of rejection. This is not a good thing for them. Allow kids with intellectual impairment to talk when they want to, even if you can’t make any sense out of what they are saying. Don’t stop them from expressing their emotions. So, allow them to shout, cry, laugh, and throw tantrums. And if they love hugging people to feel accepted, don’t discourage them. Encourage them to be who they want to be at any particular time of the day.
  • Involve them in group activities: Keeping mentally challenged children secluded would not help them. So, you should allow them to be part of their society. In your environment, there would be several groups and kids club for children with similar disabilities. Find out the nearest children group to you and get them involved. Let them participate in the various group activities. When they are nominated for competition in the group, support and prepare them towards it.
  • Join a support group: Participating in a support groups is another way by which you can understand and help mentally challenged. In the support group, you could meet friendly parents and guardians of other mentally challenged children. They would share with you tips on how they have been coping with and helping their mentally challenged children.

Intellectual impairment in children should not be an excuse for them not to excel in their society. So, your role is to keep helping them till they discover their strength and unique skills. And, encourage them to work hard so as to maximize their full potentials.
Photo Credit: Globalgiving